Devotion to all motion

Through song and theatrics, fourth grade students from Ettrick Elementary returned to their science classes last Friday knowing a bit more about the laws of motion and three men who had a devotion to everything motion.   

Actors portraying Leonardo daVinci, Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton appeared on stage in the production of The Amazing GaliNewtoVinci Show: Devotion to the Notion of Motion” for the Swift Creek Mill Theatre Youth Series at Swift Creek Mill Theatre.

Not only did the fourth grade students have the opportunity to learn more about motion and friction through a grant from the Ettrick Neighborhood and Business Foundation, third and fifth grades students also attended during other performances and brought back a better understanding about motion and friction in preparation for their SOLs.

“They were singing and moving,” said Crystal Richardson, fourth grade teacher at Ettrick. “They really seemed to enjoy it.” Richardson said the play correlated well with three of four sections in their science SOL requirements.

Rebekah Newton, also a fourth grade teacher, no relation to Isaac Newton, said they have been talking about force and motion in class and felt learning through song was very good for her students.

“We have been talking about it for a while,” she said. “It is always good to get information, especially through song. That seems to be the way they [her students] learn best. They were actually singing to the last song in the play and I am sure they will be singing when they get back to class.”

At the end of the play the cast members, John Porter, the Ring Master; Evan Nasteff, Leonardo daVinci; John Moon, Galileo Galilei; and Tom Width, Sir Isaac Newton, open the floor for questions from the students.  Many were curious about the production of the play and the actors portraying the character, as well as, the science presented. They asked how long did it take them to learn their parts, who wrote the play; but the message of the play was not forgotten either when students asked about Newton’s text on the stage and if the book was still being read today and where did daVinci’s models for motion that were used as props come from.

The students enjoyed pizza in the dining room of the 1663 circa building and chatted about the play.  Cameron said the coolest part of the play was when they started singing.  Isyss learned that Isaac Newton was the youngest of the three and lived the longest and Chyna found it interesting that Galileo spent most of his life under house arrest.

Richardson said it was a privilege to be able to take her students on the field trip to Swift Creek Mill Theater for free and very thankful for the support of The Ettrick Neighborhood and Business Foundation.

Sterling Hawkins, the foundation’s president as well as a Swift Creek Mill board member, said they have been providing support for Ettrick Elementary for the last couple of years.  Just in December, the foundation presented a check in the amount of $10,000 to the school for playground equipment.  Providing an opportunity for the third, fourth and fifth grade students to strengthen their science skills by attending the current production for the Swift Creek Mill Theater’s Youth Series was also important for the foundation.“ I was able to make the connection that Ettrick students needed to be able to take advantage of what numerous other students in the area were being exposed to,” he said.  “Sending the students to the Mill was a way to contribute to the cultural and educational experiences of the Ettrick students.  We have sent students several times.  The reports that I have received from Pat Foley at Swift Creek Mill Theatre is that these students have been well behaved, responsive  audiences as well as asking good questions after the performance.  This is what we like to hear.  In today’s social climate, we feel our money is well spent when it produces, rewards, or improved cultural and social skills.”

The foundation has also provided support to the local Boy Scout troop by helping with the purchase of equipment for one of their activities, assisted the local food bank and additionally, has assisted with other initiatives including school supplies and glasses for the children at Ettrick Elementary.  

The Ettrick Neighborhood and Business Foundation was formed with the merging of the Ettrick Business Council and Ettrick on the Move, a citizen’s organization.  “Both of these organizations were formed about 25 years ago,” said Hawkins. “The initial motivation of both organizations was to improve life in the village through improvements, community clean-ups, events, etc.  While those things are still objectives, we have become a vehicle to provide financial assistance to individuals, organizations, and groups within the community who qualify for our help.”

Initially the foundation had hoped to receive grants and donations, but to date works solely on its own to provide the financial assistance to its community.

Pat Foley, director of Children’s Theatre Programming, said The Amazing GaliNewtoVinci Show: Devotion to the Notion of Motion, written by Tom Width and Paul Deiss will run through March 1, and is appropriate for grades 1 – 6.  “All of our plays in the Youth Series are geared towards lessons for the SOLs,” she said.  Their next production for grades Pre-K-3 is Jack and the Beanstalk which runs from April 8 through May 3. For more information on their Youth Series programs, call Pat Foley at 748-5203.

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