Smith Elementary students and parents got a unique recap of Ohio History Thursday when fourth-graders performed “Ohio: Under the Same Sky,” which they also wrote.
Smith fourth-grade teacher Khara Cook said students started working on the production at the beginning of the semester, and students did all their own research for the play, which covers the history of Ohio.
The play begins with prehistoric Ohioans hunting a mammoth and covers the settlers meeting the Shawnee tribe, the American Revolution, Ohio becoming a state, the Civil War, and all the presidents from Ohio.
Students performed the play for their Smith classmates Thursday afternoon as a dress rehearsal and performed the play again for parents Thursday evening.
Cook said young students sometimes have a hard time grasping history and events that happened hundreds of years prior, so an interactive learning experience like the play is a good way to make history tangible.
“It’s making something that is so abstract to them, because students struggle with time, that this brings this to life,” Cook said. “This makes them really consider the points of view of the different people throughout time. It helps it come alive, and it helps them understand it. Instead of reading it or listening to it, it’s all around them. You can’t replicate that any other way.”
Cook added the project was made possible thanks to the Smith Arts Council, which received a TeachArts Ohio grant from the Ohio Arts Council grant to bring in Artistic Director of Creative Concepts in Music, Sheela Das and Candace Mazur-Darman, the artistic director and founder of Dramatic Impact, to direct the play for the students.
“Smith is so fortunate to have this luxury,” Cook said.
Smith Arts Council Guest Artist Coordinator Karen McCulloch said after the performance Tuesday afternoon that the students did an “amazing” job.
“I could wax poetic and go on and on and on!” McCulloch said. “Sheela and Candace have far surpassed the council’s expectations, and we are so proud of the students. What they have learned cannot be learned from a book.”