- Cheltenham School District
CSD Students Excelling with Philadelphia Young Playwrights
Students from Glenside and Cheltenham elementary schools received high marks in early September from the Philadelphia Young Playwrights (PYP) for their creativity at its annual playwriting festival.
During the 2018-19 school year, Gerald Aungst’s third grade class at Cheltenham Elementary wrote the play “Challenger’s Revenge,” which has been named one of just three elementary school-level plays to be performed at PYP’s second annual SaturPLAY! event on Saturday, Dec. 7 at a yet-to-be-determined location. Competition was tough with more than 650 submissions from nearly 1,000 students from third through 12th grade.
To prepare for SaturPLAY!, students can participate in Design Challenge day, where they will work with a professional designer to build props and set pieces to be used in the performance of “Challenger’s Revenge.” At the end of November, a team of professional actors and directors will rehearse “Challenger’s Revenge” in advance of its performance on December 7. Students are encouraged to attend one or several rehearsals to be a part of bringing their play from page to stage.
“In 3rd grade, we write large group plays,” Aungst said. “Students contribute ideas, characters, lines of dialogue and other elements which we work together as a team to put into a single, coherent story. I work with a teaching artist from the Philadelphia Young Playwrights program, Maryruth Stine, to plan the curriculum and guide the students as they create the play.”
“Challenger's Revenge” follows Luna who has always wanted to be a professional wrestler like her father, Dwayne “Black Mamba” Define. But she finds out his perfect record in the ring wasn't so perfect after all when she acquires the power to turn everything into gloop. She runs away, coming across Eliza, who has a magical secret of her own, and a surprising connection to Luna.
Students who contributed to the play include Sheila Abdul, Milan Brooks, Patrick DeBelle, Nale Goodwin, Kennedy Gray, Luane Ha, Torre Harrison, Ariana Hughes, Jaxon Macon, Carter Mattaway, Connor Oswald, Madelyn Oswald, Leydicia Renois, Mark Robinson, Finley Thomason, Asia Vaughn, Shighla Wright, Joy Yogboh and Olivia Zaroff.
Not to be outdone, select students from Tina Rodkey and Leslie Brock's classes at Glenside Elementary, who are now attending Elkins Park School, collaborated on the play “Chaotic Concert,” which was awarded second place in PYP’s 2019 annual playwriting festival.
“Chaotic Concert” follows Ellie, Paris, May and Isabelle, who meet at an orthodontist office and discover all of them attending the Beyonce and Beiber concert. At the concert, the audience learns Ellie and Paris are evil when they try to hypnotize them. It’s up to May and Isabelle to save the day by defeating Ellie and Paris by winning a dance-off.
Students involved with “Chaotic Concert” included Xadiah Ali, Grace Bell, Isabella Calzado, Kamal Clark, Sumayyah Dashields, Angel Davis, Beleida Garcia-Vargas, London Gyabaah, Kennedi Johnson, Haneef Jones, Ricky Li, Dylan Logan-Steward, Mason Milewski, Maliah Opuni, Olivia Payne, Chloe Powell, Aiden Shin, Cole Sovereign, Autumn Turner-Miller and Frederick Vaughn.
Since 1987, Philadelphia Young Playwrights (PYP) has partnered with educators to bring the transformative power of playwriting into classrooms and community settings across Greater Philadelphia. Placing students at the center of their learning, PYP’s intensive writing residencies advance writing-based literacy skills while developing critical 21st-century skills like creativity, communication, and collaboration.