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Students to Present Bilingual ‘Wizard of Oz’

The Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Dorothy will be speaking Spanish when students at Jefferson Elementary School in Lennox put on a bilingual production of the “Wizard of Oz” this weekend.

Last year, when students performed “Peter Pan,” English and Spanish were intermingled throughout the scenes.

After the production, administrators noticed a tremendous difference in the attitudes of students, many of whom were at risk of failing or falling into trouble. So the school made plans for another production.

“The students who were involved last year have become leaders in the school; their academic achievement has skyrocketed,” Principal Joanne Isken said.

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“Many found that they have talent. When they found that talent, they found some self confidence.”

The annual theater production is especially important at this school because there are no funds for a music, dance or drama program.

Isken said teachers have volunteered their time to sew costumes.

Director Anna Rubin, a teacher’s aide who also works as a dance choreographer, has volunteered to put the production together.

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There are 90 students from second through sixth grades taking part in this year’s production, twice as many as last year.

The thespians have been rehearsing since January, when they were awarded their roles after a grueling audition.

They raised money for the production by selling candy and through fund raisers at the school carnival.

The booster club and local businesses also chipped in to fund the $5,000 production.

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Through the play, students at the bilingual school--where classes and activities are carried out in two languages--have not only become more fluent in Spanish and English, they have used the play for such classroom exercises as reading from the script and problem solving.

Isken said the production has also helped pique the students interest in school.

“We’ve always known that music and theater were important,” Isken said.

“When we did last year’s production we found out how right we were about the difference it makes in their lives.”

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Though next year’s production has not yet been selected, Isken said there are plans to continue the program.

Performances are scheduled in the school cafeteria Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $2.


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