Feature stories

Sweet as honey

Bronx school’s ‘Pooh’ production an educational treat

Sweet as honeyMiller Photography"Everything is honey," sing students in the grand finale of the play, performed on Feb. 11. Reviews are in and it’s a hit! Four performances of Disney’s “Winnie the Pooh Kids” at PS 18 in the Bronx brought audiences to their feet for standing ovations and left students asking for more opportunities to perform in years to come.

The school was chosen by Disney because PS 18 did such a stellar job last year when it was one of five city schools to work on a Disney play in collaboration with the entertainment giant.

“Disney was so impressed with everything we had done — the acting, scenery, costumes and curriculum; they asked us if we would be interested in piloting this year’s play,” said art teacher and director Omayra Rivera-Filardi, who wrote both last year’s and this year’s winning grant proposals and was involved every step of the way.

It would be a challenge, she was warned. The script, choreography and music would change as this new play was still under development. And there wouldn’t be the guidance supplied by the Disney teaching artists as there had been last year, just the school team itself.

“They said, ‘If you’re willing to take the challenge, you’ll be the first New York City public school to do it.’ So of course we said, ‘Why not?”’ laughed Rivera-Filardi.

Sweet as honey PS 18 integrated both plays with its school curriculum, tying them in with literacy, science and visual arts. “Disney loved that it wasn’t just a one-night show, it was a schoolwide learning opportunity,” she said.

Students were involved in all aspects of the production, not just the acting: they worked on the crew, did lighting, cued up the music, made props — giving them a realistic overview of theatrical work.

“It was so cute! I videotaped the performance and watched it four times already,” said Chapter Leader Marie Sarabia. “The 3rd-to-5th-graders who were in it were so excited about the whole thing!”

And now the 2nd-graders, Rivera-Filardi said, are coming up to her and telling her they want to be involved in next year’s show, whatever it is. Stay tuned!

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