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Hamden Hall Country Day School
Educating students in PreSchool through Grade 12

Grade 3 Performance Whisks Audience to the Grasslands

It was a morning celebration of music, theater, and art as third-grade students performed Over in the Greenlands inspired by the book, Wutaryoo, by author Nilah Mgruder. The performance served as a cross-curricular project through the guidance of teacher Alexis Harris 2001, Lower School art teacher Sue Bennet 1973, theater teacher Lisa Daly, and music teacher Rachael Jungkeit to conclude the Grade 3 unit of study on the African Savanna grasslands.
Taking the stage in the Taylor Performing Arts Center, the students were dressed in all black attire with animal head cutouts, accessories, and props representing the different animals that inhabit the Savannah safari and desert. With Mrs. Jungkeit on the piano, the performance opened with the song Over in the Greenlands. From a grazing hippo to a water-squirting elephant, students individually made their way to the front of the stage to introduce their animal and explain what they naturally do in their habitat.
Transitioning to the play with an original script written by Mrs. Harris, third-grader Quinlan Bird narrated the story of the Baobab tree played by fellow classmate Leila Assis. As the Baobab tree is the only one of her kind in the Savanna grasslands, the audience learned that the tree had been struggling to find her place and didn’t feel that she belonged. Hearing this, each animal took their time to tell the tree how important she is to their environment and the role she has in protecting the animals and surrounding areas. In the end, the Baobab tree realized her own value and that of each animal with regard to their role in their habitat. The show ended with a musical performance of the song Circle of Life. 
“I was inspired by the book Wutaryoo and wanted to create a story that showcases how everyone has a story to tell and can help others find their purpose,” said Mrs. Harris. “The students really took the message to heart and performed it beautifully. I am so proud of them.”
Following the performance, the students and their families were invited to an art show hosted in Swain Library. Across the tables were individual stations full of different art projects the students completed in class with Mrs. Bennett. Poster boards featured an outline of a Baobab tree as created by broccoli stencils and forks with a sunset background. Other images included cardboard lion relief creations using recycled paper and materials; painted animal head sculptures built using glue and recycled materials; and an illustration book about each animal. According to Mrs. Bennett, the students began work on these projects back in January and noted that the cross-curricular aspect of the project is what Hamden Hall is all about.
Third-grader Audrey Retzke explained that studying the African Savanna in class was “fun because we got to choose our own animal for the project and learn all about it,” while Ayesha Sami said that “everything we do is interesting and new.”

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Hamden Hall Country Day School is a nurturing and inclusive community with a dynamic learning environment that promotes academic excellence by understanding each child and fostering their individual growth.