I returned to Alpha Public School for a morning assembly for about 260 K – 8th grade students and their teachers. When I arrived I was met by the English teacher who told me that I had been here in 1991 with RockRoots and in 2005 as a solo. I knew I’d been here before but it was curious to find out exactly when. Apparently, the RR gig was in our first year as a band, so that’s pretty deep history. Another teacher came up and said she was from Bridgeton ES, a now defunct school in rural PA that I had a great relationship with in the 80’s, while I was still figuring out my solo folk show. We hugged and I said that I’m glad that we’re still in the game. This web goes back pretty far.
I set up in the gym in front of the stage so I could be down among the audience. It meant that the whole school would be on the floor with me. As the kids came in, I goofed around with the first graders and went back to the eighth graders to explain that I may play down to the younger kids, but to relax and have some fun. Eventually, they did.
I did Peanut Butter and Tutti Tah and then several Christmas sing-alongs. I got two seventh grade boys up on Tutti Tah, recognizing that they were having fun with it. It broke the spell for the older kids to have their fellow students up with me. They knocked it out.
I followed with The Cat Came Back and had one side sing to the other on the chorus, repeated the next chorus with the mirror effect (I gave the other side the choice of doing a golf cheer or a standing ovation. It didn’t work like I had hoped.) Then, at the end I had the teachers sing the chorus operatically. I invited some of the older kids to play Thunder Tubes on Giants in order to, again, bring in the older kids into the show. It worked well. Slowly I was gaining the trust of the 6th, 7th and 8th graders, though some remained in their shells.
At the end I did my Rudolph (antlers and noses) routine and finished with All Around the Kitchen. That remains a good dance closer, especially if I bring up kids from across the diversity of ages. Eventually, I brought up three teachers to bring it home.
Seeing how it was a half-day before Christmas break, I went on a little too long, but the energy was great at the end. As they left the gym, the principal came up and said that he remembers learning The Cat Came Back in summer camp and using it when he was a teacher. That was pretty cool.
It was a workout and I found myself soaked with sweat at the end. The PTA lady, Lisa, thanked me for a great show. Somehow I never quite accept the praise, knowing that I could have connected better with some of the kids.
Winter solstice with temperatures in the 60’s. But I was done by 11:15 am and home by noon. Not to bad for the last school gig (the Omega) in Alpha.