Education column: Middle school play impressive

The classic Dickens tale of “A Christmas Carol” was recreated last week in Clovis to a standing ovation at the end of the performance.

Adults and kids filled the audience and, as always, good old Marshall auditorium had that special atmosphere of bated breath in anticipation of a theatrical performance. Impressive special effects were included, from snow to eerie smoke accompanying the appearances of the ghosts Past, Present, and Future.

“What acting troupe?” you may well inquire. None other than the seventh-graders from Marshall Middle School. An outstanding performance was delivered by Joshua McLaurin as Ebenezer Scrooge, whose stage presence and English accent were wonderful and greeted with cheers and shouts of approval as he took his final bow at the end of the performance.

You might wonder how seventh-graders with little stage experience could pull off such a success. With the help of great educators, of course, willing to go above and beyond.

Math teacher, Cary Webskowski, who is also team leader for the Arts Team (Cougars), headed up the project, together with Molly Smith, (Language Arts); Stephanie Shaw, (Science); Casey Pack (Social Studies); Terry Pipkin (Science); Tamara Lopez (English and Social Studies); Luis Campos (Math); and Alex Lopez (Bilingual); Suzan Lundy (Art); Darren Williams (Science).

The idea of the production came about indirectly as a result of last year’s Marshall opera, “Huck Finn,” performed primarily by eighth-graders.

Having realized that undertaking such an ambitious production could be expedited by more seasoned players, it was decided that including a 7th grade production might be worthwhile providing, at the same time, a beneficial experience for seventh-graders.

Since the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol” is required reading for middle school, the next logical step — after reading and discussing the book, followed by reading the play — was to perform it.

Webskowski shared: “The kids have been amazing. It was great watching the kids grow into their roles. They quickly memorized their lines, and blocking the production on stage seemed to come naturally to them.”

Everyone – students and adults alike — became so vested in the process that it was decided that next year (and hopefully for us, the audience, the years to follow), there will be a regular fall production by the seventh-graders and a spring production by the eighth-graders.

Webskowski talked at length about how grateful she was to all of those who helped bring about this production: From the fourth- and sixth-period girls choirs offering their lovely vocal contributions, to local businesses, to other current staff members, as well as retired Clovis schools’ employees.

These various categories included Keith Ingram at the high school, who opened up his treasure chest of costumes and props; J. E. Williams; Marsha Shade, accompanying pianist; Viola Cano, parent volunteer supreme; these, along with many others.

In any case, it was a job well done, and I suspect that Tiny Tim might say, “God bless them, every one!”

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at