Valley View Elementary School third-grader Sara Schulze entered from stage right and began, as King of the High Seas, singing her high note a cappella.
Flanking her, classmates in black bushy beards and goatees, many with dreadlocks or wigs dropping below their shoulders, sang in delight, "What should we do with the stowaway?"
Her crew of salty third-graders discovered their classmate and stowaway Mark Hong hiding in the back of the school auditorium, having sneaked aboard the performance Tuesday.
For the last two months, third-grade teachers Karla Bringas and Elizabeth Neskovska coached the school's 43 third-graders for the annual end-of-the-year play.
"Right after testing, it's our big finale for the school year," Neskovska said.
"We're helping develop their speaking skills . . . and we can have a little fun."
Students see the writing on the wall as school ends Friday.
"I'll miss third grade," Mark said. "Ms. Bringas is leaving."
Bringas is one of the 72 teachers who hold pink slips, meaning she will likely be laid off at the end of the month.
But not yet.
On Tuesday, Mark and Sara led their grade in songs and dances, filling the auditorium with songs of "shiver me timbers," scalawags, and "yarrr," which, for first-grader Nicholas Goethals, was a favorite saying.
"I want to be a pirate," he said afterward. "It was a good play."
For Sara, it was a lot of memorization.
"I just sat down on my bed and read the script over and over again," she said.
"Whenever we got free time, I would work on it, at dance class, everywhere."
Ed Hawkins, the father of third-grader and pirate Keaton Hawkins, said their home had been full of songs in recent weeks.
"It was interesting because I had only heard it without the music," he said.
"With the music together, it was really impressive."
That the play is organized and performed by third-graders is a nice touch for Kelly Stubbs' second-grade class, she said.
"For them being second-graders, they look forward to it," she said.
The play follows a pirate ship at sea, where the captain is a renown singer who falls ill with laryngitis.
A stowaway onboard is heard singing the blues from the ship's brig, and is thrown into the limelight.
"Set me free," Mark and his fellow prisoners sing with their hands bound in silver construction paper chains from behind cardboard bars.
"Because I'm lost, I'm lost at sea. Hear my plea — set me free."
The ship's mates hear the tune offstage, and after having praised the captain for her cadence and pitch, they change their tune.
"That's the best voice I've ever heard," one student says.
They fetch Mark, and with his voice an island tune breaks out, with students spelling out the pirate creed.
"If ye be a pirate repeat after me, yo ho, yo ho, singing a pirate song," they sang.
"You can't be a pirate with no pirate song."