Students from Davidson's McKinney Academy recently performed a short play based on Verna Aardema's book, "Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears."
The West African folk tale was brought to life last week in the children's reading area of Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Birkdale Village. The school will host another free public performance tied to Black History Month at 11 a.m. Feb. 26. It will feature new acts, such as poetry readings and the A-to-Zs of black history, as well as the students' performance of the African folk tale. The school also will host an open house 6:30-7:30 Feb. 18. (Details: 704-895-9664 or www.mckinneyacademy.com.)
Why the buzz?
Students in kindergarten-fourth grades wore colorful masks and costumes to tell a story about a cast of jungle characters caught up in a chain of mishaps.
Mosquito sets it all off by telling Iguana a tall tale. Iguana puts branches in his ears to avoid Mosquito's nonsense and, by doing so, accidentally ignores Python's morning greeting. That causes Python to suspect Iguana of plotting mischief against him. This goes on until it reaches Mother Owl, who refuses to hoot and awaken the sun.
"It's hard to explain but easy to understand once you get the whole story," said the school's headmistress Andrea McKinney, who founded the school in 2007. "It's a really fun story."
Events like this are intended to help build students' self-esteem, but also to help raise awareness about the school. The school has only given two performances at the bookstore but has drawn a large crowd each time, said the store's community relations manager Michelle Endicott.
"Performances like this really help students with their public speaking skills - a skill they'll need for life," McKinney said. "And it's good for students to be in front of an audience that's not just mom and dad."
The event also was the culmination of a school fundraiser, which ended last week. Barnes & Noble partners with schools throughout the U.S. Its bookfair program allows customers to have a percentage of their purchase total donated to a designated school.
Some larger schools have earned up to $15,000, but most make between $1,500 to $6,000, Endicott said.
McKinney Academy won't know how much money was raised for about a week. The money will be used to support the school's newly opened library and special area classes, such as drama and music.
Students sound off
Braedon Yates, 9, of Cornelius was a narrator. He couldn't pinpoint his favorite part of the story, but said he has enjoyed learning about other figures throughout black history.
"I kind of like all of it," he said. "It's pretty interesting and neat to learn about."
Walter-Glen Ikner, 10, of Huntersville played King Lion. One of his favorite parts of the story is when the mosquitoes get smacked.
He also understands the importance of studying black history and people like Martin Luther King Jr.
"Without him I wouldn't be in the McKinney Academy, and Mrs. McKinney wouldn't own it," he said. "I wouldn't have the same opportunities I do now."
Ashton Willis, 10, of Huntersville also was a narrator.
"I like when the baby owlets cry for help," she said of the play.
About the importance of black history she said, "It's important because I think it shows that just because you're a certain color or religion, you can still do something anyone else could."