First graders at the Laurence School, located in Valley Glen just north of Sherman Oaks, kicked off the Thanksgiving season Tuesday afternoon, with a little something extra to be thankful for: A new Performing Arts and Enrichment Alcove.
Students inaugurated the indoor/outdoor facility with a Thanksgiving performance of readings, songs and dance. The 1,800 square foot performance room and adjoining outdoor stage represent the independent K-6 elementary school’s belief that drama is a valuable component to education.
“Children need to learn to communicate and be able to use their oral language, ” says Laurence School founder Marvin Jacobson, who cut the ribbon to the the alcove before Tuesday’s performance.
In addition, he says that students are taught how to depict their feelings through facial expressions and movement. The alcove was built exclusively for the school’s kindergarten through third graders. Laurence’s existing Performing Arts Center continues to house the upper grade's full-length play productions.
The school's commitment to performing arts isn’t about creating actors. “Drama helps children develop confidence and imagination,” says Jacobson. It’s also integrated into other curriculum, as a tool for teaching literature and character education, he explains.
A bonus: “Often kids who are quiet come alive on stage,” Jacobson adds. “Parents who think their children would never get up in front of an audience will come to a performance and be totally blown away.”