Fletcher Elementary Students Awarded Young Playwright Awards

Pictured are Ava Lanphere, Giovannie Jackson, Camren Randolph, Gina Delgado, Jessi Hunter, Luke Hansen, Brynn Ribbing and Veronica Short. Missing from photo is Isabella Smith. Submitted photo

Nine Fletcher Elementary School third- and fourth-graders were recently honored with awards through Chautauqua Institution’s Young Playwrights Project. Jessi Hunter, Brynn Ribbing and Giovannie Jackson’s plays won the project and were performed by the Chautauqua Theater Company. Camren Randolph, Gina Delgado, Isabella Smith, Luke Hansen, Veronica Short and Ava Lanphere’s plays were honorable mentions and received a medal and ribbon. Chautauqua Institution partners with Florida Studio Theatre to present an interactive, three-part playwriting project for area third and fourth grade students from Chautauqua Lake, Panama, Jamestown, Ripley and Westfield elementary schools.

“It was truly inspiring to see hundreds of young playwrights pour off of buses and into Chautauqua Institution on Monday,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, vice president of Performing and Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution. “These young playwrights delighted in seeing the ten winning plays as presented by the Chautauqua Theater Company. A boy’s unemployed mother got a job and was able to buy her son a basketball hoop, smelly gym shoes came to life, war enemies found understanding and a small foal overcame her fears and grew her heart to be brimming with confidence. It was a wonderful day.”

“We are so proud of our students,” said Maria DeJoy, Fletcher Elementary School principal. “We are also so thankful to Chautauqua Institution for this opportunity for our students to learn from a professional theater group about how to write a play and to visit Chautauqua Institution. We are always looking for interesting ways to help our students learn writing skills and this project is so exciting for them in so many ways.”

In the first stage of the project, teaching artists visit every third and fourth grade classroom at each school to guide students through the process of writing a play. During the second stage, students and teachers take a winter field trip to Chautauqua Institution where community and staff volunteers read each student’s play aloud. Awards are given during a closing reception to celebrate each student’s efforts and creativity and recognize winning plays. The third phase of the program sees the winning plays published online by Chautauqua Institution as well as performed at Chautauqua Institution at the end of June.

“It was so interesting to go to Chautauqua and see my play performed,” said Jessi Hunter, Fletcher Elementary School fourth-grader, who wrote the play “Mr. Shark and Lucy.” “I didn’t know what they were going to do with my words and they made the mom meaner that I thought it would be. It was very exaggerated but really cool to see. We also got to visit the art gallery, have lunch and eat ice cream. It was fun.”

The public was able to see the plays at Smith Wilkes Hall, Chautauqua Institution. The production was part of the free Family Entertainment Series.


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