Date: November 20, 2008
Contact: Lindsay Gladstone
Governors State University
Phone: (708) 534-7090
Fax: (708) 534-8399
For Immediate Release
University Park, IL, November 20, 2008 - Recently, hundreds of young children, including 140 kindergarten through second grade students from Bernice Childs Elementary School in Robbins, crowded into The Center for Performing Arts (CPA) at Governors State University to enjoy a rocking, musical depiction of evolution through the stories of some very large and colorful dinosaurs. As the dinosaurs romped across the stage in Mammoth Follies, they taught science lessons and the children laughed, learned, and enjoyed live theater.
“Our students were really engaged. Experiencing live theater is enriching. Exposure like this can only enhance the learning experience,” said Tracy Olawumi, principal of Bernice Childs Elementary. “And most little kids love dinosaurs so they really learned from the story.”
“Teaching schoolchildren about the arts and exposing them to the music, dance, drama, and comedy of live performances are central to the mission of The Center for Performing Arts,” said Kathleen Brennan, Arts in Education Coordinator for the Center. The CPA is committed to introducing children to live theater. It annually hosts a series of programs that enable more than 35,000 children to experience live theater through music, dance, and plays.
The Arts in Education Series offers live performances geared to specific grade levels. The performances enhance subjects studied in class and are aligned with state goals in literature, social sciences, and science. Performances in this series range in purpose from an appreciation of Dickens and Shakespeare, to an understanding of scientific phenomena, to the depiction of history and society through the stories of Harriet Tubman and Anne Frank.
“The Arts in Education program allows students to participate in pre-show lessons and post-show activities that enhance the theater experience. We provide classroom materials specially developed to expand student understanding.”
The CPA Board of Directors realized, however, that many schools cannot afford ticket or transportation costs, prohibiting them from bringing their students to the Center. To provide opportunities to more children, the Center offers scholarships and subsidies to school groups through the Adopt-a-School program, part of the Ralph Medhurst Children’s Fund. The Medhurst family began the fund in honor of Ralph Medhurst, a former member of the CPA Board of Directors.
Continued donations to this fund enable children from economically challenged schools to attend performances at the Center, and receive educational materials directly related to the show and a special gift, such as a book, t-shirt, or lunch with the author.
The students from Bernice Childs Elementary attended the show as part of the Adopt-a-School program. Each child got to meet the dinosaurs and the actors who portrayed them after the show. They then enjoyed cookies and juice and each received a storybook on dinosaurs to take home.
“This experience was priceless. We were fortunate to come to the theater under this grant. It gave the students an opportunity they might not otherwise have had,” added Olawumi.
For information about the children’s programs offered at The Center for Performing Arts or about the Ralph A Medhurst Children’s Fund, call (708) 235-2222 or visit www.centertickets.net. The CPA at Governors State University is located at 1 University Parkway, University Park.