The enthusiasm was evident in Lorrie Heagy's classroom at the Juneau Community Charter School last week.
Props were positioned, lines were learned and people placed where they needed to be, all in preparation for the first public performance of a play every student had a hand in creating.
Heagy's fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade class, roughly 20 students in all, boarded the ferry to Haines this morning for the school's first-ever journey beyond Juneau - a trip on which students will stage the play and give a violin concert.
The students will perform for kindergartners through fourth-graders at Haines Elementary School.
One-half of the performance schedule will be the student-written play about the winter solstice. Sixth-grader Drake Skaggs said the students composed it several years ago after reading about different cultures' solstice customs.
"We combined some of them to create a play about the winter solstice," Drake said.
The play features the story of three children who go on a journey to find the meaning of the winter solstice, and a half-dozen songs are interspersed in the work. Every student has a role in the performance.
The production has become an annual tradition within the school, but Heagy said this will be the first time students perform it for another audience. Students said they are not worried.
"It's not going to be too hard because we've done it a lot," said fifth-grader Charli Childers.
The students' violin concert will feature a variety of music including "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Perpetual Motion."
Every student in Heagy's class is learning the violin.
"It's a community-builder, the fact that everyone plays," Heagy said.
The class is instructed on violin by Guo Hua Xia, who has been working with the charter school since it started its violin program.
The students play from memory. At a rehearsal last week, they jumped from piece to piece and part to part at Xia's direction.
"Your fingers kind of know it," said Connor Chaney, who is in fifth grade.
But there are still some obstacles to overcome.
"Holding the violin up that whole time is hard," Childers said.
Heagy said the Haines trip will include visits to the eagle preserve and the Sheldon Museum in cooperation with Haines teacher Jeanne Kitayama.
"We thought it would be a great way to interact with her kids, as well as visit the eagle preserve," Heagy said.
The class will spend tonight at the Haines school and return Tuesday.
Heagy said the trip means a lot to the close-knit group of students; some have spent five years together.
"It's a very tight group, and I can't think of as better way to spend time together," she said.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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