By Indiana Nash
NISKAYUNA — The second-graders at Craig elementary recently performed a musical which weaved together America’s history with hopes for its future.
The students had been working on the show, “Let’s Hear it for America,” for the past six weeks. “They’ve been learning lines, memorizing songs, and learning to work together,” said Sarah Conboy, a second-grade teacher at Craig and one of the musical’s organizers.
On April 6, the day of the show, the second-graders gathered to perform a dress rehearsal for the entire school in the gymnasium. Performers were divided into red, white, and blue groups on the stage and all wore head bands with stars on them to symbolize the American flag.
Standing on risers, the second-graders broke out into song, with a few students breaking off in between the musical numbers to introduce the concepts their peers were about to sing about. Theresa Fitzmaurice, a Craig music teacher, conducted the students and accompanied them on piano.
During one of the first interludes, students rattled off some of the people they consider to be heroes in American history. They followed this up with a song about the importance of having a hero. Students then went on to sing about where their ancestors came from and how American’s people are what makes the nation truly great.
Each song was intermixed with choreography and in between each, students stepped up to one of the three microphones lining the front of the risers and recited several lines. The second-graders also had to know the lyrics to each song without the aid of sheet music.
This is quite a lot for any elementary student to learn and perform, let alone a large group of second-graders.
“It was really important for the students to memorize their lines,” said Conboy. They worked from flashcards and even quizzed each other so that they could memorize everything in time.
One of the children said, “It was hard to memorize all the lines but we helped each other.” The students also helped one another out on stage. “I reminded the other students in the group of when we had to go up and say our lines,” said one performer.
Although it may have been the first time that some of the students ever sang or performed anything of the sort, they seemed comfortable. “When they got up on the risers, their nerves turned into excitement,” said Conboy.
The students also performed the musical for parents and family members on the evening of April 6. Another performer said, “I was scared but when we messed up we just kept going to make up for it.”
One of the final songs recollected all the things that make America great, which struck a familiar chord with the audience as reminiscent of “Make America Great Again,” slogan of the boisterous Trump campaign. Instead of singing about the country’s fall from greatness or plans for some future greatness, the Craig second-graders sang about what has always made America great: the people.
“We weren’t sure we were all going to be able to pull the show together in time, but we did!” said Conboy.