Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Kedron Receives Target Grant for Children’s Theater

Students at Kedron Elementary are going to star in their own full-scale musical, complete with professional sets and costumes, thanks to the generosity of Target.

Fifth grade teacher Carla Zonneveld was instrumental in helping Kedron receive a $5,000 Target grant to bring the Missoula Children’s Theater to the school in 2009. The grant will fund the weeklong residency of two professional actors/directors who arrive in town with all the costumes, props and sets necessary for a full-scale musical production. The only thing missing is the cast, which is where the students become involved.

The week begins with a casting call on where 50-60 students are selected to fill the roles of a popular children’s story that has been adapted to a musical. Other students will serve as backstage directors, helping with the curtains and lighting and making sure that the actors enter the stage on cue. By Saturday, after a week of intensive rehearsals involving memorizing lines, learning songs and practicing choreography, the students put on two public performances. Tickets are sold to the community for both performances with the school keeping all of the proceeds, which will be used to bring the theatrical group back to the school the following year.

“Bringing a program to a school that will make a lasting impact on some of its students is not difficult, but introducing one that will change the lives of an entire school community is nearly impossible,” say Zonneveld.

This grant is part of ongoing efforts by Target to strengthen families and communities throughout the country. Since opening its doors, Target has given 5 percent of its income to organizations that support education, the arts, social services and volunteerism. Today, that translates into more than $3 million every week.

Zonneveld says the Missoula Children’s Theater experience will give students the confidence and skills they need to be effective students while instilling important character traits that they will use for the rest of their lives.

“I have witnessed first-hand the effect this type of training can have on a large group of children. As my daughter attended rehearsals after school, I began to see the whole group changing. By performance day, I was in awe of the talent being displayed with complete confidence. Even the youngest children had developed the discipline and demeanor of seasoned performers,” says Zonneveld.

Schools can apply for Target grants between March 1 and May 31 of each year. Target funds arts programs that bring the arts to schools or make it affordable for youth and families to participate in cultural experiences such as touring programs, field trips to the theater or symphony or artist in residencies and workshops in schools.

“I hope that with the generous support of this grant we will be able to start a tradition of showcasing the arts in our community and changing the lives of many generations of Kedron Knights to come,” says Zonneveld.
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