At Vista Ridge Academy, kids get used to the spotlight at an early age. While the school is also known for its emphasis on instrumental music and other arts-based endeavors at the elementary school level, it also offers well-designed opportunities for young kids to act and sing, as well as learn about production, sound, staging, and costume and set design. These productions provide a wonderful opportunity for parents, friends, and extended family to connect with each other and see how the children are growing socially and academically through performance.
The first and second grade classes performed “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” on the evening of Thursday, April 20. This was the third time Vista Ridge Academy has produced this show (each year alternates between Charlie Brown and “The Little Red Hen”). Pulling off a stage production is a a lot of hard work for this age group! Carisa Carr, the classroom teacher, says, “We begin by learning parts—which helps develop reading skills—and music two months before the performance. Rehearsal times are short to begin with, but during the week of the production, we begin full rehearsals figuring out how the whole performance flows on stage with microphones.”
It is clear that the kids enjoy creating something that is their own. They bubble with excitement as they practice their lines after school and discuss costumes, characters, and funny things that happen during practice sessions. Older children who have been at Vista Ridge since they were little have fond memories of the productions and continue to be super proud of the creative work they put into them.
Performing helps build confidence. Mrs. Carr notes, “There have been many times when I’ve seen kids who maybe struggled a little with reading or other classroom skills really come into themselves when they get the chance to shine in front of an audience. It affects the way they see themselves.”
Vista Ridge Academy aims for students to strengthen each area of development during their time in elementary school. Giving students a voice through drama and music allows them to develop public speaking skills, memorization, and self- confidence. Vista Ridge plans to continue to develop this program, hoping to eventually add another musical to the first and second grade line-up, putting them on a three-year rotation. The school would also like to purchase updated sound equipment.
Students create a special item—such as a class quilt—to be auctioned off at each production to raise money to fund costumes, set pieces, and other production expenses.
The school’s annual Spring Concert and Art Exhibit will be on Wednesday, May 17 at 7:00 p.m. for all grades, PK-8.
Vista Ridge Academy is a private Christian elementary school north of Denver, operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It offers holistic Christ-centered and values-driven education to children from preschool through to the eighth grade.
Becky De Oliveira is director of communication at Boulder Adventist Church, one of Vista Ridge Academy’s three supporting congregations.