FOR THE KIDS : Important Women in History Visit Classrooms : Mothers play the parts in costumed skits aimed at inspiring students as part of a monthlong observance.


Sacajawea, the Shoshone Indian woman who went on the Lewis and Clark Expedition,dropped by Junipero Serra School in Ventura one day last week.

So did Amelia Earhart, Pocahontas, Jane Addams, Cleopatra and Dorothy Hamill--complete with ice skates and gold medal.

It was the opening of National Women's History Month, and for the third year, mothers at the school dressed up as famous women to perform skits.

Schools all over the county this month are paying tribute to the often overlooked accomplishments of women and, at the same time, giving girls some impressive role models.

Hundred Hats Theater Company in Santa Paula is putting its own spin on Women's History Month with a production for kids called "Amanda Wiley, Do Your Homework Now!--The Story of Women and Math."

Women have been given short shrift when it comes to mathematical wizardry, according to Terry Brenner-Farrell, author and director of the play, which will be presented to the public as well as to schools around the county.

"Schoolchildren might have learned about Pythagoras, but how many of them learned about his wife, Theano, who like their daughters, was also a mathematician?" she said.

The Thousand Oaks branch of the American Assn. of University Women has been making that pitch for the last nine years, ever since the group started its Women's History Project.

Each year the group researches and writes first-person monologues on a half a dozen or so important women. Then, in costume, they perform the skits at elementary, middle and private schools in the community. The idea has become so popular that the group recruits volunteers--parents, students and teachers--to help with the presentations.

"The goal is to promote a more equitable portrayal of women in U.S. history," said the group's spokeswoman, Barbara Wilson, who explained that the project was inspired by a member whose young daughter believed only men could be doctors.

This year's collection of great women includes contemporary mural artist Judith Baca; the first Native American female physician, Susan La Flesche Picotte; astronomer Maria Mitchell, Olympic athlete Wilma Rudolph; author Yoshiko Uchida, and suffragist Alice Paul.

The group now passes on its collection of monologues to school districts throughout the county so the idea can spread. Other branches also promote the idea. Two years ago, the Thousand Oaks branch published a booklet, "Profiles of Women, Past and Present," that includes monologues, costume descriptions and prop suggestions for 15 women--everyone from physician Elizabeth Blackwell to astronaut Sally Ride.

"We try to be dramatic," Wilson said. "We try to do it so it reads like a story with some suspense."

At Serra School, first graders were entranced by Sacajawea (parent Nancy Balogh), who came into the classroom wearing a fringed leather dress, moccasins and a gray blanket slung over her shoulders. Her long, dark hair was braided and decorated with beadwork.

She told the class: "I was important to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Without my help, they would not have been able to bargain for supplies and pack horses." She handed out feathers when she was done.

The school goes all out for Women's History Month. Throughout March, 15 mothers and a dozen fifth-grade girls will visit the classrooms as famous women. Participants research and write their own scripts, choosing whom they wish to portray.

"They're able to personalize it that way," parent Aileen Kroll said. They put together their own costumes. This year, Chameleon Costumes in Ventura is helping out.

Not only do kids get a better handle on the accomplishments of women, Kroll said, but they also get more accurate information than the myths often spread by movies.


Mark Twain's classic "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" is the latest offering from the Young Artists Ensemble in Thousand Oaks. Weekend performances begin Friday and run through March 25 at the Conejo Valley Adult School Auditorium, 1025 Old Farm Road, Thousand Oaks. Show times are Fridays, 7:30 p.m., Saturdays, 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays, 2 p.m. Tickets are $6.50. For information, call 499-4355.


Moorpark will be the scene for Kid's Fest '95 on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's a bunch of kid activities, including pony rides, face painting, arts and crafts and train rides. Look for the action at the Moorpark Town Center, Moorpark and Los Angeles avenues.


* WHAT: "Amanda Wiley, Do Your Homework Now!--The Story of Women and Math."

* WHO: Hundred Hats Theater Company.

* WHEN: Saturday and March 18, 2:30 p.m.

* WHERE: Santa Paula Theater, 125 S. 7th St., Santa Paula.

* HOW MUCH: $6 for adults and $4 for children under 14. (Recommended for fourth graders and older.)

* CALL: 644-4128.

* FYI: Also March 25, 5:30 p.m., at Gull Wings Children's Museum in Oxnard.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World