SELBYVILLE — There were plenty of smiles and sunshine when The Freeman Stage welcomed over 6,500 students from Sussex, Worcester and Wicomico counties last month to enjoy a performance of “Junie B. Jones, the Musical,” by TheatreworksUSA as part of its Arts in Education program.
From May 22-May 24, students from 25 elementary schools in Maryland and Delaware enjoyed the musical, based on the popular “Junie B. Jones,” books series by Barbara Park.
The arts nonprofit, who’s mission is partnering to present memorable performances and inspired arts education for all, also welcomed Delaware’s First Lady, Tracey Quillen Carney for a performance. For Carney, the musical highlighted one benefit of the arts through its theme, which was “tell your story,” she said.
“That’s what the arts does for kids and for all of us,” she said. “It gives us different ways to tell our individual and authentic stories.”
For Freeman Stage staffers, it is one of their favorite times of the year, said Executive Director Patti Grimes.
“For many of the students who visit the stage over this three-day period, this may be the only time they experience a live arts performance,” she said. “The children get off the buses with such big smiles and excitement — their joy is very contagious.”
Julie Bradley, a third-grade teacher at North Laurel Elementary, echoed Grimes’ sentiments, noting some of her students have never been out of Laurel town-limits, so the whole experience — from the scenic route of the bus ride to the performance and the lessons it touched on — was great.
“Having The Freeman Stage is a great asset to the community and to the schools. The fact (students) can come here and it doesn’t cost them anything is wonderful,” Bradley said. “If it were to ever go away, I think there would be a big disappointment in Delaware.”
The Freeman Stage, is a program of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, a fundraising 501(c)3 nonprofit arts organization, which provides free high-quality arts programming to over 18,000 students annually in Delaware and Maryland through its Arts in Education program as well as presenting over 60 performances a summer at The Freeman Stage in Selbyville. Visit www.freemanstage.org.