SANDOWN – Sandown North School first graders were a garden last week. In a musical they put on under the direction of music teacher Susan Quigley, the brightly dressed kids taught their audiences about all of the things that go into making a garden grow well.
The kids put on two performances of “How Does Your Garden Grow?” – one on the morning of June 10 and one in the afternoon. Both performances were well attended by the school community and parents and grandparents alike.
The players were many and were dressed in bright flower and plant costumes. The event featured a flower chorus and many speaking flower and plant parts. And as in any garden, there were also a bunch of weeds. After the weeds showed up to rap about their proliferation, Farmer Herb, with a silent ‘H,’ cleaned the place up with a song and some hoeing.
The kids worked on the play for eight weeks, and the benefits of the experience are many, explained Quigley. While it’s fun for parents and teachers to see the cute students dressed up and singing, the play requires a lot of hard work and lessons along the way.
Quigley said it’s good for the young kids to work on a long-term project, and to see how the efforts they make every day lead to the final product.
“After all that practice and going over the songs, they see how good the result can be,” said Quigley.
She noted that theater studies were a great thing for the young students. She said the skills and talents kids have that otherwise may go unnoticed in their other school activities come forth during the play process. The kids enjoy it, and the context of the play also allows them freedom to explore and be creative.
The music teacher chooses plays that have a variety of song styles and that carry a good message, and each year the final product is looked forward to and well received.
The play will be Quigley’s last, as she has announced her retirement this year.
She’s been putting performances together with each successive class since she began teaching in the 1987-1988 school year. Now kids she once dressed up for the show are coming to see their own children perform.
After the final show, as she was cleaning up the costume room, Quigley said, “This is definitely on the list of the things I will miss… There have been a lot of fun memories.”
And students Quigley had years ago tend to remember which character they played and often remind her of their own experiences, showing that Quigley’s work has deep roots.