Not many elementary school students can say they’ve written works for a national stage production.
Two Southern Nevada students did so just this month, though. National group Story Pirates selected creative short stories by third grader Nirmandeep Singh from Walter V. Long Elementary and fifth grader Julius Sullivan from Louis Wiener Jr. Elementary School to perform on stage during the group’s student matinee shows at The Smith Center.
“We liked your stories so much, we’re about to act them out,” a cast member declared on stage during the matinee show where both students were in the audience.
Story Pirates, based in New York and L.A., serves as an education and media organization that celebrates the ideas and words of young people.
Overlapping theater and language arts, the group accepts story submissions from students nationwide, and chooses a handful to transform into musical sketch comedy pieces, which the group performs across the U.S.
During Story Pirates’ shows at The Smith Center — presented to more than 6,400 students from over 40 schools — the group also discussed important writing elements, such as setting, plot and point of view.
“What (students) learned from this show was a new way to write narrative, that they can be authors, too, and that theater can be fun,” said Moire Lynch, Singh’s teacher at Long Elementary. “It’s important to promote creative story writing among young students, because it helps them see how the story books they read every day are created.”
Thanks to the support of generous donations, The Smith Center presents student matinees for local students throughout the year at no cost to schools.
The tales Story Pirates acted out during the matinee shows were written by children from coast to coast, including stories about sister ninjas, mimes in pencil factories and an easily distracted detective.
The actors incorporated singing, dancing and plenty of slapstick when acting out Singh’s story — about an alien traveling to Earth to play soccer — as well as Sullivan’s story, portraying a piece of paper nervous about its fate in the classroom.
“This is a big opportunity, having my story chosen,” Sullivan said after being called on stage alongside Singh for recognition.
His mother Sandy Sullivan, also a teacher at John R. Beatty Elementary, said she was brought to tears watching her son’s story performed on stage.
“Writing’s been his hardest subject, so this is a really big confidence booster,” she said. “It’s exciting not just as a mom but as a teacher to see this show demonstrate how fun writing can be.”
Singh, who plans to keep writing as he gets older, said his story was inspired by his teacher, Lynch.
Lynch nearly cried when she discovered Singh’s story was selected, she said.
“He, his father, his teacher, and his classmates were filled with glee at the sight of him on stage,” Lynch said. “When we got back to the classroom, the other students asked for his autograph. I said, ‘It will be worth a lot of money someday.’"
To learn more about The Smith Center’s Education and Outreach programs, visit www.thesmithcenter.com/education/education-outreach-programs/.
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