09/24/04 — Fremont STARS enjoys 'Stone Soup'

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Fremont STARS enjoys 'Stone Soup'

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 24, 2004 1:58 PM

Imari Howell, a fifth-grader at Fremont STARS Elementary School, is excited about the upcoming play to be performed in the auditorium.

"This is our first year doing a play," she said.

"Stone Soup," based on the popular children's book, will be presented by fourth- and fifth-graders on Oct. 7. Imari will have a solo, and classmate Ella Edmundson will be in the choir. Jessie Stewart is one of the storytellers and a villager.

Jessie said one thing she learned from the experience has been how to project her voice on stage, but other realizations have also occurred. Imari and Ella said math played an important role, from dividing students into groups to measuring ingredients needed to make soup.

The innovative approach was calculated, says Principal Debbie Ogburn.

Scores on reading tests in recent years have been low, she said, and it was time to shore up the skill. The school had to look no further than its name for ideas. Fremont STARS stands for School of Technology, Arts, Reading and Success.

Teachers and staff decided to incorporate the arts into the curriculum this year to bolster reading, math and writing skills. A production will be presented at the end of each nine weeks. Second- and third-graders will be next to work on a play, with the year-end performance done by the kindergarten and first grades.

Kelly Langston, curriculum facilitator at the school, will oversee all the performances. Art teacher Joy Vinson is also lending support to the project.

Ms. Vinson said things were still being worked out when the school year began, but "we have all just jumped into it."

Fifth-grade teacher Jean Podbesek said the staff has provided adult supervision, but the students are doing everything.

"They have used math in building scenery, fractions for the notes, reading in drama and applied their reading skills," she said.

On Thursday, the four classes were brought together for a soup-tasting cast party. Five kinds of soups were prepared by the students, who lined up to sample each and then vote on their favorite.

Ms. Podbesek said the event helped extend the learning experience. Results of the vote would wind up on a bar graph in technology class.

She called the process "incidental learning."

"I don't think they realized they're having a math class," she said. "They're reading directions, following directions when they're making scenery, writing invitations to be sent out.

"Hopefully, we make our learning life-lasting."

She added that the experience had made learning fun for her, too.

The public is invited to the Oct. 7 performance, with admission to be $1 for adults and a canned food item for children. Proceeds will fund the next production and canned goods will be sent to an outreach program to benefit residents in the western part of the state.