Success onstage and in school

Sixth through eighth graders at P.S. 89 in Allerton rock the house with “High School Musical” performance for their schoolmates and parents on Tuesday, May 20.
Photo by Aracelis Batista

These students shone onstage at their school play.

Middle schoolers at recently improved P.S. 89 in Allerton sang their hearts out for schoolmates and parents on Tuesday, May 20 at the musical production.

Drama teacher Jennifer Susi said the play, High School Musical, was relatable to her students because it’s about finding your niche.

“It’s a very tough time in their lives and they’re trying to figure out who they are, ” Susi said.

Success Onstage

Susi, who has taught drama at the K-8 school at 980 Mace Ave. for seven years, said the play was the talk of the school for the rest of the day, and that her students’ confidence on stage was an inspiration to other students.

“The little ones attacked my actors,” she said. “Asking ‘Can you sign my playbill?’”

Susi said the 13 students in her after-school drama program started preparing for the musical in December.

“It was an amazing end to an amazing journey,” she said. “I’m so proud of them.”

The production wouldn’t have been possible without some help from community members.

Susi said the school received about $2,500 total from donors that included Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, Metro Optics Eyewear, D.J. Ambulette Services and Sanitation Salvage, which went towards props and a sound system. Carmela Printing also donated playbills.

Next year, Susi said she plans to try and expand the play’s audience beyond the school and make it a community event.

School Improvement

The play is not the only accomplishment the school has had recently.

After years of being graded with a “C” by the Department of Education on progress reports, the school received an “A” rating for the 2012-2013 academic year.

“I think a lot of that has to do with the implementation of the academies,” said Susi.

She was referring to the separation of the middle school into two distinct programs three years ago, one for art and one Science Technology Engineering and Math.

Fifth grade students get a taste of both STEM and art elective classes, and choose which area they’d like to concentrate on more in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade.

“What that did was allow the arts to become a tool for learning,” said Susi.

For example, her drama class students learn about such literary elements as setting and character development. Studying scenes helps with memorization, she said, and they practice writing with short plays or scenes.

Susi also said that because her students chose to be in the class, they get more from the experience, and she said she’s seen a change in school culture towards more collaboration.

“They want to participate,” said Susi. “Which makes the learning more creative.”

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at jwilliams@cnglocal.com.

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