Osler School students won’t be running stop signs on their bikes anymore, thanks to a crash course on cycling safety on Thursday, May 18.
The school held a day-long bike rodeo in cooperation with the Osler Fire Department and the town council, using equipment and advice from the Warman Fire Department.
“The town had brought some concerns to us earlier this spring about bicycle safety,” said Osler School Principal Audrey Kampen in an interview at the event. “A lot of kids take it for granted that they own the road.
“I’ve seen kids, when they leave on their bikes after school, drive straight through two stop signs without even looking. That’s a real problem, and we felt we needed to do something about it by giving the kids some education about the rules of the road.” Continue reading “Osler students learn rules of the road at bicycle rodeo”→
If you think it’s tricky stuffing a genie back into a lamp, try shoe-horning 300 actors, singers and dancers; along with a sold-out audience, into a single musical production in a tiny school gym.
The staff and students at Osler School showed what wonders you can work with a little imagination and a lot of hard work, as their musical version of Aladdin played to sold-out crowds this week.
The musical, based on the popular Disney animated movie, made use of the entire gym. Strategically-designed wide aisles allowed cast members to move freely throughout the crowd during the play’s numerous action scenes. The characters also at times even used the risers for the choir as a prop to hang from. The deceptively simple set, designed to be easily flipped around as the scene changed, was elaborate in its effect.
Throw in great sound effects, innovative lighting, terrific costumes, creative dancing styles (everything from belly to ballet), a very realistic looking camel, and the “Arabian Nights” mood is complete.
The lead cast members are all Grade 9 students. Eric Harms is convincing in the title role of Aladdin and alter-ego Prince Ali. Kendra Reimer is entirely believable as the feisty and independent princess, Jasmine.
Eric Gallinger as Abu, the mischievous and expressive monkey sidekick of Aladdin, was the clear favourite of the hundreds of youngsters from elementary schools who came to the performances.
James Wiebe in his role as the sinister sorcerer Jafar likewise made a big impression on the audience.
Brayden Arnason as Jasmine’s father, the Sultan, made the most of his comic lines, including gems like: “I can’t understand why Jasmine is so picky about who she’ll marry… her mother wasn’t…”
But it’s Adam Boldt, channelling his best Robin Williams impression, who delivers the Genie’s cleverest rapid-fire puns and jokes in a script that relies heavily on timing and chemistry.
The production’s strong point is the story itself: full of action, romance and comedy tied together with memorable tunes.
As the string of sold-out performances show, Osler School’s most recent production stacks up very well in its 19-year-old tradition, even though the bar was set pretty high already.
An Osler School tradition that began in 1997 is more popular than ever.
“All the tickets for our shows sold out in a day and a half,” said Tamara Milnthorp, a teacher at the school and one of three co-directors of this year’s production of Aladdin, slated to run April 18-21. “It’s something that our community definitely looks forward to.”
The school, with a student population of 289 from Kindergarten to Grade 9, mounts a full-scale musical theatre production every second year.
Every student has a part, whether it’s a lead role, a voice in the choir, or helping with sound and lights. In the early years, the school put on a show every year, but it’s since been scaled back because of the amount of work involved.
“It takes a lot of teamwork to pull it all together,” added Joanne Banman, a teacher and co-director. (Michelle Lane is also a co-director.) “We’ve done Aladdin once before, back in 2001. My son had a small role in that show, and now he’s a married man with two little girls of his own. So it’s been a while. None of this current crop of students would remember it.”
Planning for the production begins in the fall.
“We got together as a staff earlier this year and chose a committee to head up the musical,” said Banman. “Then we discussed it as a committee and finally settled on Aladdin as our choice for this year.
“For most of the kids, this is their first opportunity to be in a big production like this.”
Auditions began in mid-January, and by early February the roles were assigned, scripts and song sheets distributed, and the business of rehearsals got underway in earnest.
“The main cast get together every lunch hour to rehearse,” said Milnthorp. “And we also built in a practice period into our school day, so then everybody, whether it was the choir or dancers or drama, costumes or makeup, everybody came together to practice their roles.”
The loss of a practice facility at the school made it a little more challenging, but teachers and staff were used to making do.
“We have a pretty small space to work with, so we have to do a lot of improvising,” said Banman. “But it all works out.”
Milnthorp said this group of students is “a joy” to work with.
“We’re blown away by the talent of these kids. They’re so willing to learn, and some of them are naturals at acting,” she said. “There’s no grumbling, even if a scene has to be done over and over again, they’ll keep doing it till they get it right. They’re very coachable and enthusiastic.”
Volunteers from the community pitch in to help teachers and staff make costumes and scenery.
“It’s a real community event,” said Banman. “Everybody looks forward to it. For the teachers, it’s the highlight of the year.”
Students from area schools, including Warman, Martensville, Hague and Hepburn are bussed to Osler to take in the show.
“We’ve had to add more shows to accommodate everyone,” said Banman. “We also added another dress rehearsal before our real dress rehearsal.”
Pat Bodnar, a teacher at the school, has the monumental task of directing a choir of more than 200 little voices made up of Kindergarten to Grade 6 students. It takes almost as much time to get the kids arranged on the risers as it does to get through the songs.
“Some of these pieces are actually pretty challenging,” said Bodnar. “It’s taking a lot of practice, but we’re having fun with it too.”
Milnthorp said the play also contributes to a stronger sense of community among students at the school.
“We see it on the playground at recess,” she said. “The older kids are playing with the younger ones and helping them. The other day a bunch of kids of all ages had organized themselves and were playing ‘Red Rover’. How cool is that?”