There is an excitement, energy and passion that swirls around the ACDS auditorium every time a grade performs a play. Whether it’s the veteran 5th grade students confidently striding across the stage or the sweetest 1st grade children staring into the crowd, the transformation that takes place in our students is palpable.
The drama program has been an ACDS showcase since the school’s founding in 1982. Every elementary student participates in a musical theater performance in front of a live audience each year. With daytime and evening shows, that’s 20 performances on our stage annually, not counting productions by our middle school drama electives.
And what’s more, our shows are fantastic! Parent volunteers provide costumes and our middle school students assist with set design, lighting and sound.
Considering the age of the performers, ACDS plays are remarkably advanced. But our drama faculty — consisting of three teachers — is committed to the principle that no performance is more important than a child. The teachers put the children first, making them believers in themselves through the confidence-building and joy that are the most important outcomes of our performing arts program.
From a neurodevelopmental standpoint, active participation in drama stimulates multiple dimensions of the growing brain: memory, as a child learns a part; language, exercised through reading and expressing; spatial and gross motor skills as children learn how to move about the stage and are introduced to dance choreography; and of course, creativity, activated when children take someone else’s words and movements, and add their own flare, sharing and shaping their own unique creative self.
Every ACDS elementary student has a role in the class play; we have no auditions and no cuts. The directors often create lines or additional scenes to make sure all the characters have a presence on the stage during the show. The drama faculty’s aim is that during a child’s time onstage at ACDS over the years, every student will have a chance to be a star. Indeed, our alumni tell us that the opportunity to perform in a full–length annual musical show is a life-shaping experience that they treasure among their school memories.
In our experience, no matter what the initial level of confidence a child brings to the stage, after performing in ACDS plays, students feel empowered to do anything.
Contact ACDS for this year’s performance schedule, and we’ll see you at the show!