OGDEN -- Students from four elementary schools in Ogden School District got their eyes opened to an established art form -- marionettes.
Students were entertained by Joseph Cashore and his presentation, Simple Gifts, showcasing marionettes in several vignettes on topics ranging from school work to homelessness to flying a kite. Students from James Madison, Odyssey, Taylor Canyon and Hillcrest elementary schools witnessed the shows Wednesday and Thursday.
This is the third time Cashore, who lives in Pennsylvania, has performed for students in Ogden. The Ogden School Foundation sponsored his visit each time.
Janis Vause, foundation director, said Cashore's performances are rich with educational values.
"It promotes the arts and sciences. He builds the marionettes and operates them, and the (students) listen to classical music. It's really a lesson in physics," Vause said just before the performance started.
Nearly 400 third- through sixth-graders at James Madison elementary watched in awe Thursday as Cashore worked his magic on a small black stage set up on the school's regular auditorium stage.
The students quieted each other during the more tender moments of the performances and giggled loudly when Cashore made his marionettes do comical stunts. Many students were especially impressed with Cashore's horse, and after the performance peppered him with questions about his craft.
Each time he brought out a new puppet, students made quiet remarks about how "cool" they were. Students also got a lesson in theater when Cashore's wife, Wilma, explained why it was important to be quiet as the stage lights were low.
"There are things that go on in the dark that you need to listen for, and we need to listen for," she said.
After those instructions, students went silent between scenes as well.
Principal Vincent Ardizzone said he was especially rewarded by the performance.
Ardizzone, who grew up in Europe where marionettes are popular, told the students he only remembered having two assemblies while he was in school, and they both involved marionettes.
When he asked students if they had ever seen marionettes, only a few hands went up.
"This will be very special," he said.
After the show, the students felt sure they would be seeing marionettes again.
"I just want to know how much they cost, because I want to buy one,"