Mississippi College

Puppet Show Entertains Clinton Students at Mississippi College

September 9, 2008

Tossing drink cans, dirty diapers, motor oil, glass and gum in Mississippi rivers is a terrible idea.

Hundreds of fifth graders at Clinton's Eastside Elementary got that message as they enjoyed a musical puppet show at Mississippi College Tuesday.

Puppets like Bobby Bass and his River Town friends were the stars in the musical puppet play titled "Watershed Harmony." The play put on by Bayou Town Productions of Hancock County focused on ways young people can protect the environment.

"I learned a lot about how not to pollute," said Breanna Vickers, 10, moments after her class exited Swor Auditorium.

Her class led by Eastside teacher Cindy Stanford is doing its part. Last year the class recycled 1,200 pounds of paper, including workbooks and old newspapers. Students also recycle soda cans. They will be back at it again this year.

Jaquantia Barnes, 10, came away impressed with the 60-minute production on the Clinton campus. "I liked it when the puppets were singing - when they told us not to litter," she said.

"Watershed Harmony" is designed to encourage citizens, both young and old, to promote water quality in their communities.

The Mississippi Forestry Association, U.S. Forest Service, the Mississippi Forestry Commission, and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality teamed up to sponsor the show that's part of the statewide Project Learning Tree initiative.

Cherie Schadler, a published children's author, is joined by her husband Ron and their 14-year-old son, Joey, to develop and recite the script for the puppets they created on stage. They entertain and inform more than 16,000 students statewide every year. Their family has produced family educational entertainment since 1990. Their Bayou Town puppet cast has traveled to schools, libraries and churches in Mississippi and around the Southeast.

While the puppet show was primarily geared to children, the production also brought home valuable lessons about classroom management and curriculum skills to their teachers and 32 Mississippi College students who will soon enter the education profession.

Prospective teachers from MC learned by "seeing how kids react," said educational leadership department chairman Tom Williams as he watched the production in the back of Swor Auditorium.

The 365 fifth graders in the audience also got the chance to participate in the production. Noise levels were up as they imitated the sounds of thunderstorms.

As the noise died down, they learned that when powerful storms hit it can wash large amounts of soil, litter and pollutants into rivers and streams. And that destroys fish and other aquatic life.

"Clean water is important to every living thing," Cherie Schadler, co-owner of Bayou Town Productions, told the students.

Eastside teacher Paula Stodghill said she left MC with lots of good ideas to bring to her classroom in Clinton.

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