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Cool Schools: Parker Core Knowledge gives students a creative outlet with its Music Theater program

The goal is to teach students self-confidence and how to be well-rounded

PARKER, Colo. — At Parker Core Knowledge (PCK) Charter School, they’re teaching Kindergarten through 8th-grade students band, choir, guitar, and technical theater as part of their Music and Music Theater program. The goal is to teach students self-confidence and how to be well-rounded.

“It gives them a way to verbalize how they really feel about different matters in life,” said music teacher Krystal Myers. “It also gives them a higher level of critical thinking and feeling in all situations.”

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Myers has been teaching music at the school for the past 19 years and said it’s important to give students an outlet to express themselves.

Credit: Nelson Garcia

"Our school is pretty academically driven and having this is a tremendous resource for them to be able to express and be creative, to make a lot of mistakes, to be really dorky is really really important,” she said.

Starting in the 4th grade, students are able to participate in the After School Theater program which supplements their regular music program. They also do two Musical Theater productions a year, one in the fall for the 4th and 5th graders and one in the spring for middle schoolers.

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“They may not ever be that full performer but they’ll always have that appreciation sitting there watching performances later in life,” Myers said.

The school said they average about 70 students who participate in each production in various roles like acting, costume design, lighting, sound engineering, and backstage management. This year they’re staging their version of “Shrek the Musical” which marks the 25th production for the school.

Credit: Nelson Garcia

“They understand how hard it is to be an artist or to be a musician or to be an actor on stage and what the work ethic takes to become that person,” Myers said.  “One thing that makes it different is that it’s highly integrated into what the kids are learning in the classroom.”

“We read a play last year, ‘Cyrano de Bergerac,’” said 8th grader Samantha Gustashaw.  “It was fun because we got to act out the play and we did all the stage direction and it was just a fun combination of English and Theater, and it was the two things I love.”

Myers said in middle school, students are quite unsure of themselves and they’re just starting to develop into who they will potentially become.

“It’s really important for them to learn this now because what it creates is a sense of work ethic and understanding the caliber of practice that it will take to get to that next level.”

It’s a level that 8th grader Ivwa Sternkopf hopes to achieve. She’s been acting since she was in the 5th grade and wants to pursue the craft as her career.

Credit: Nelson Garcia

“I just love creating a world for people to just get lost in for a few hours,” Sternkopf said.  “When you’re in school, you’re focusing on your grades and your homework and what you’ve got to do but the second you step into the theater room, it’s kind of a relief and you get to do what you want.”

Myers said she feels the department is one of the elements of the school that sets them apart from other schools in the area. 

“We work so hard to really know where these kids are really at and what do they need,” she said. “We’ve got quite a lineage and history in this program and it’s amazing.” 

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