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Second-graders take stage for musical ‘Bebop with Aesop’

OCEANSIDE — Second-grade students, dressed as furry bunnies, green frogs and other friendly characters, took to the stage at Nichols Elementary School on Feb. 15 to perform the musical “Bebop with Aesop.”The musical tells four of Aesop’s Fables through spirited narration, song and dance.

Valan Bechtold plays Aesop. Photo by Promise Yee

“The children are all singing,” Cathy Regan, play director and second-grade teacher, said. “There are solos, trios and full chorus songs. Every child is on stage in costume.”

Second-grade students Gianna Wild and Breana Nonaca explained their roles as part of the singing trio of ants in the Grasshopper and Ants scene.

“The ants are working and Grasshopper begs them for food,” Gianna said.

“I was super great,” said Breana, describing her performance.

The second-grade musical is an annual event that students look forward to schoolwide. Older students compare this year’s performance to students’ acting and singing in previous years. Younger students dream of what part they might have in the play some day.

“The third-graders were in it last year,” Kasia Obrzut, school principal, said. “The fifth- graders are still talking about it. It’s fun seeing the same characters played by different kids.”

The same play is performed for three years by each schoolwide second-grade class. After three years, the second-grade staff selects a new play and readies the next group of students, costumes and props.

In January, second-grade teachers discuss the selected play with their students. Auditions are held at lunchtime and all 120 second-grade students are matched with a part.

Miguel Ponce Maldonado gives a growl as Wolf. Photo by Promise Yee

“Special needs students are included,” Obrzut said. “We find a part for all students. Some don’t realize they have a talent for singing or speaking.”

The performance helps students learn literacy skills.

“It helps with their fluency and reading,” Obrzut said.

Each second-grade teacher takes charge of rehearsing one of the six scenes of the play with a mixed group of students from different second-grade classes. Daily rehearsals last for about six weeks. By mid-February students are ready to take the stage.

A total of five performances are given for fellow Nichols Elementary School students, parents and students from three nearby schools.