From the Peekskill City School District: Peekskill’s fabled “yellow brick road” once again welcomed Dorothy, the Lion, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Wizard of Oz himself at the Oakside Elementary School last week. As a culminating activity for the year, the two second grade Dual Language classes, taught by Heydi Rodriguez and Alexis Vazquez, presented an entrancing version of L. Frank Baum’s magical story of “El mago de Oz.”
“The Wizard of Oz” is a play with many speaking parts – but not quite 41, the number of dual language students in the two classes. Undaunted, for the seven scenes of the play, the teachers cast seven Dorothys, five tin men (“hombres de hojalata,”) five scarecrows, two Glindas, and two wicked witches. Adding in various munchkins and other Oz residents, every child had a speaking part. The young actors transitioned from scene to scene flawlessly and articulated their lines (all in English) perfectly.
“We could really see how much positive impact that drama had on our students’ language acquisition and understanding,” commented Ms. Vazquez. “And, the lessons of the characters, helping each other, finding heart, brains, and courage, and taking the challenge of following the yellow brick road – these have been wonderful learning experiences for our students,” added Heydi Rodriguez.
The production reached a high level of professionalism with scenery by parents Michael Murphy and Liz Lazo and special effects (including a spooky projected Wizard of Oz) by teacher Denise Chavarria. Many parents designed and made the impressive costumes. “I was absolutely amazed at the very high level of achievement this play represents,” observed Oakside Principal Mary Foster. “Everyone worked so hard, especially the students, and the results are just outstanding.”
Singing and dancing down the yellow brick road as Dorothy were Renee Norris, Sheila Arevalo, Maria Patino, Sheila Guiracocha, Lindsey Castro, Ava Cairl, and Marley Lazo-Murphy. Playing the tin men were Jefferson Arpi, Robert Hicks, Cristian Alvarez, Alex Suscal, and Daniela Pavon. The scarecrows were Sage North, Miles Karteron, Matthew Guiacha, Steven Henson, and Andric Illescas. The Glindas were Tanya Merino and Jennifer Torres, and Isabella Lopez and Alisa D’Souza were scarily convincing as the wicked witches. Azaria Johnson was a lovely lion, Anastasia Aponte played a clever Toto the dog, and Esteban Pauta was a very wise Wizard. Welcoming Dorothy home were Isabelle Paul as Aunty Em and Cesar Calujay as Uncle Henry. To all 41 students and their families, Peekskill’s yellow brick road is one they will long remember traveling.