Short performance conveys big message in Morgan

Oct 4 2011 - 12:12am

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(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner) Carter Payne, a third-grader at Morgan Elementary School, performs a song with other third-graders during a musical performance called “We Are Amazing” at Morgan High School on Thursday. The 30-minute production consists of nine original songs with uplifting messages about self-esteem, the consequences of bad choices, coping with trauma and more. “It was fun to see their interpretations of the songs, how they’re internalizing this message,” Melanie Hoffman, one of the production’s four songwriters, says of the students.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner) Third-graders from Morgan Elementary School perform recently “We Are Amazing,” a musical program at Morgan High School in Morgan. Top, Josh Heywood, a third-grader at Morgan Elementary School, performs a song.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner) Josh Heywood, a third-grader at Morgan Elementary School, performs a song.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner) Carter Payne, a third-grader at Morgan Elementary School, performs a song with other third-graders during a musical performance called “We Are Amazing” at Morgan High School on Thursday. The 30-minute production consists of nine original songs with uplifting messages about self-esteem, the consequences of bad choices, coping with trauma and more. “It was fun to see their interpretations of the songs, how they’re internalizing this message,” Melanie Hoffman, one of the production’s four songwriters, says of the students.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner) Third-graders from Morgan Elementary School perform recently “We Are Amazing,” a musical program at Morgan High School in Morgan. Top, Josh Heywood, a third-grader at Morgan Elementary School, performs a song.
(KERA WILLIAMS/Standard-Examiner) Josh Heywood, a third-grader at Morgan Elementary School, performs a song.

MORGAN -- The program, preparation and performers were short, but the message was big, as Morgan Elementary School third-graders performed nine original songs in the new "We Are Amazing" program.

The 30-minute performance Thursday was the first of its kind, the culmination of just 11 45-minute practice sessions.

The songs' writers -- Steven Kapp Perry, Marvin Payne and Roger and Melanie Hoffman -- attended the program's "world premiere." All three have been involved in children's music for more than 25 years and were excited to hear a large group of children's voices sing a program they have been working on for two years.

"It was a thrill and delight to hear them sing tonight," said Roger Hoffman, songwriter and music producer. "There were many emotions: tears and just laughing out loud."

A crowd favorite was the "Secret Agent" song, during which 120 children wore sunglasses as they tried to "find the key to the power in me." As the timer ticked and the boys popped their cheeks, the girls sang of things they could do to help others around them.

"If you last a little longer, the storm will pass and you'll be stronger," the children sang while holding hands with one another.

"It was fun to see their interpretations of the songs, how they're internalizing this message," Melanie Hoffman said.

Bobbi Hansen, the program's creator and longtime Morgan resident, said although the program's songs didn't specifically mention anti-bullying techniques, self-esteem, the consequences of bad choices and how to cope with trauma, those are exactly the messages she hopes students and parents take away from this.

"It's just an uplifting message for students and parents that teaches kids their real, true worth, that this world is better because they are in it, the importance of finding out who they are, that they can help others, hard things will happen, and to go after your dreams," Hansen said.

"Bobbi came to us with a list of messages she wanted the songs to portray," said Perry, songwriter and broadcaster. "The concepts came from her. And hearing the kids tonight, it worked."

When Hansen began creating the program two years ago, it was with third-graders in mind.

"They are so much fun at that age, and they still love to be themselves. They are able to be real and have fun with the real person they are," Hansen said. "Plus, they will remember things that happen to them in third grade. I want them to retain these messages for the rest of their lives."

The program is simply nine songs without narration in between or solos, "so no one is the star," Hansen said. "Everyone is as important as the other."

Morgan teachers and administrators said the program was a good mix of arts in the classroom and uplifting messages students need to hear.

"After reviewing the program myself and with the third-grade teachers, we felt it was the right presentation for us," Morgan Elementary Principal Tim Wolff said. "Through Bobbi's donated talents and time, and under the direction of our teachers, we are able to address several of our music curriculum standards, provide an exciting opportunity for our children to feature their talents, and involve our parents and community in a fine-arts event."

"I don't think students get enough of arts in the classroom," said Morgan Elementary third-grade teacher Becki Hadley. "My kids were extremely excited. They gave up soccer, football and dance to be here tonight."

Hansen hopes to take the program to schools nationwide to show children "how important they are, and how the world relies on them."

Click here for more information about Bobbi Hansen, the program's creator.

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