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School district, Struthers partner for Arts in Education

Photo provided to the Times Observer Elementary students from throughout the county recently attended a performance of “The Velveteen Rabbit” at the Struthers Library Theatre as part of the Arts in Education program.

Students throughout Warren County recently experienced Shakespeare.

The program was a joint effort between the Warren County School District and Struthers Library Theatre through participation in the Arts in Education initiative.

“Struthers provides an educational opportunity for students in the district through a grant,” Amy O’Donnell, WCSD academic coach said. “High school level students attend a performance of the PA Shakespeare Festival.”

And the specific show came full circle.

District sophomores and juniors attended a performance of Romeo and Juliet, which is explored in the classroom at the end of their freshman year.

Photo provided to the Times Observer Youngsville High School students Mia Battko, Kylie Huffman and Destiny Pattinson silently perform actions from a sleepover during an Arts in Education event held at the Struthers Library Theatre.

“Groups of students from each attendance area worked with performers after the production to learn fundamentals of acting,” O’Donnell said.

“Playwrights write plays with the intention of them being performed,” actor Momo Burns-Min said. “Shakespeare, especially, wrote in a way that was difficult to understand, but the performance enables the audience to connect actions and emotions to the words.”

And there are lessons that come from the stage that can carry over to other areas of life.

“Theater has taught me a lot about being able to accept other people,” actor Timothy Oh said. “It is the ultimate test of empathy. You learn how to embody and see the world through the eyes of people in a way you

never imagined.”

O’Donnell said elementary students from across the county including St. Joseph School, homeschooled students, virtual students and students from the Tidioute Community Charter School also recently attended an Arts in Education performance of “The Velveteen Rabbit.”

“Performers from The Virginia Repertory Theater use live theater ‘to entertain, challenge, and uplift communities,'” she said. “Students enjoyed some question and answer time with the actors after the show.”

“It’s important for students to be around creativity and be able to learn how to create stories and express themselves,” St. Joseph third-grader Leonora Ignatius said.

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