by Lynette Wiebe, Kindergarten Teacher
After nearly thirty years of kindergarteners performing the same play, we had to pause for a couple of years, and the community really felt the loss. This show was a rite of passage for HPA students, after all. In fact, year over year the whole school would wait for the kindergarteners to walk off the stage so they could all chime in with, “I want a big, fat pig to eat…!” Last year the eighth graders even memorialized the whole thing through video so the kinder piggies could enjoy their own performance for years to come.
This year, when we finally got to start up again, we decided as teachers to refresh the tradition. We knew it was a community treasure, but beyond that, why were we doing it? Because it is part of our ELA (English Language Arts) program. So we did a literature study of the fairytale and read various classic and not-so-classic versions of the story. We also reached out to High Point specialists to pitch in. In the Kindergarten STEAM class with Ms. Morgan, the students engineered houses that resisted being blown down. They learned the music all month with Ms. Wang. Sets that were made by parents decades ago were given new life by Mr. Davis and his seventh grade design class, and the kindies saw the project evolve with every visit to the art room.
Overall, Three Piggy Opera is a tradition, but it has to have an educational purpose. I was so pleased with how everything came together. Every student had a part in retelling this old tale through speech and song. Yes, it was a performance, but we enjoyed it as a community coming together to build a fairytale, as well as to continue the High Point story.
Music and Performance
By Doris Wang, Music Teacher
One very important part of music class is performance. It’s a big step for kindergarteners to take since this may be the first formal stage show for many of them. Working with kindergarteners in music class has always been a joy. For Three Piggy Opera the students were taught rhythmical movements while singing with different expressions for each song.
The students learned to prepare their mindset and character for the show. For example, the student who played the wolf practiced how to express “hunger and frustration” with her singing by using facial expressions and movements in her songs. The goal was not for a “perfect” performance but to create a character and enjoy the experience at the same time.
It was wonderful to witness the students’ growth, cognitively and emotionally, as they rehearsed the music. On the day of the show, many of them shared they were feeling anxious, nervous, or excited before the performance. Watching them work through those emotions to step out of their comfort zone and perform their best singing and dancing for the show was inspiring. As a new teacher, this was my first time working with the Kindergartners on the Three Piggy Opera. It was a rewarding experience for both students and teachers and truly an honor for me to work with such wonderful children, teachers and staff at HPA.
Set and Prop Redesign
by Zach Davis, Art Teacher
Mr. Davis challenged his 7th grade design class to create brand new sets and props for Three Piggy Opera. The original 20-year-old set pieces were brought into the art room and studied. The students watched a video on Es Devlin, artist and stage designer, and then they sketched out their own ideas. They were encouraged to rethink the existing design in order to add their own imaginative style. The students took it to another level, creatively speaking.
Studying artists and scene design allowed the students the freedom to use their imaginations. They were encouraged to take mere doodles to finalized drawings. Then the students began to test their images and designs by creating models. As designs solidified, they began to experiment with color. They watched a film by anime master, Hayao Miyazaki, and continued to create more drawings and paintings in order to see what might work and what might not. In the end the 7th graders created a whole new world for the kindergartners.
As you can see in the design there is a fish tank in the chimney. No one knows why there is a fish tank inside the chimney, but there it is! You will also notice one jumping out of the chimney of the brick house. And some new characters were added as portraits in the brick house. In addition, a friendly neighborhood squirrel was added to the nose of the stick piggy house. However, the squirrel scampered over to the wagon for the performance, enjoying a front row seat for the show.
The important thing to realize is that the 7th graders in this design class were in this play when they were in kindergarten. The Three Piggy Opera music was played during art class, and the students sang the songs as they worked. All the teachers involved in the production encouraged cohesive and cross-divisional cooperation, and the result was a magical re-creation of a High Point tradition, to the delight of everyone in the audience.