Students rehearse holiday show

December 01, 2000

Students rehearse holiday show

By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - They may miss a few cues, but Stephanie Salisbury knows the 120 students at the Franklin Learning Center will make the annual Christmas show a success.


"No matter what they do, it will be great because of the kids," said Salisbury, the music teacher at the school for students with learning disabilities and special needs.

Students have spent the last two weeks rehearsing "The Rockin' Reindeer," an hour-long program with Christmas carols at the end.

The students will perform today at noon at the Chambersburg Area Council for the Arts TGIF at the First Lutheran Church on Washington Street in Chambersburg, and at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and 12:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at the school at 2397 Loop Road. All performances are free and open to the public.

Salisbury began preparing for the big show this summer, when she adapted the play to suit the students. That meant changing most of the dialogue to narration so the students could focus on learning the songs and their exit and entrance cues.


Teaching assistants Teresa Jenkins and Sandy Beard keep the audience focused on the story line, which centers around the lazy reindeer who only work one night a year.

When the reindeer tell Santa they have done all of their chores, including polishing the sleigh, Santa suggests they get a part-time job.

The musically inclined reindeer form a rock band and land a gig at the brand new Rudy's Place - owned by the famous Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer. But their debut performance happens to fall on Christmas Eve, so the reindeer have to find a way to juggle their two jobs.

They convince Santa's elves to fill in until they return from delivering presents, and everything goes off without a hitch.

Salisbury said she can never predict what will happen during any of the Christmas performances.

"When we do it for real it happens as it happens. If they come out at the wrong time, the kids on the stage yell and tell them to wait," she said.

But during rehearsal Thursday, the students were remembering the songs and keeping up with the pace it takes to get 120 youth across the stage.

The students, ranging in age from 5 to 21-years-old, pack the stage - some wearing reindeer antlers, others dressed as dolls, motor cars and even bells.

About 30 staff members help with the production, leading the kids on stage and pushing the ones in wheelchairs.

Physical education teacher Janei Robinson is Santa Claus and Diane Richardson, a multiple disabilities support teacher, plays Mrs. Claus.

The Franklin Learning Center is an educational facility owned and operated by the five school districts in Franklin County, with a programming focus based on preparation for adult living.

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