Saltfleet District High School drama students recently put on a colourful performance with a global message in support of children in need.
Grade 9 students Brock Beck, Ben Comley, Tori Cupit, Hamzeh Hussanein, Eric Jackson, Melissa Johns, Emilee Kuzler, Haley Micallef, Abby Piercey, Jenna Rainville and Megan Rockel, along with Grade 10 students Marissa Corak, Hope Kelly and Zoe Smith brought a crayon box to life and explored the issues of prejudice and acceptance in a play called Colour Our World With All of Us on Dec. 3 at the school. The 40-minute show helped to raise $400 for McMaster Children’s Hospital.
“The play is about world diversity – how we are all one, yet all extremely different and diverse,” said Bayan Aburkhes, a Grade 11 student who organized and put together the performance. “Everyone was so enthusiastic about playing their parts and the crowd was extremely motivating. It was an amazing show with a great meaning, wonderful response and it was all for a great cause.”
Drama teacher Terry Micallef introduced his Grade 9 class to Aburkhes one day during lunch.
A former drama student, Aburkhes had come by to visit Micallef. She decided to stay and help out with the class.
“We started reading some scripts together as a class that he (Micallef) had previously written,” Aburkhes said. “We stumbled upon an old children’s theatre play – Colour Our World With All of Us. We thought it would just be an in-class assignment, until we noticed how much the Grade 9 class enjoyed it.”
Micallef and Aburkhes decided to hold auditions for the play within the class.
They narrowed it down to 11 students, who were all assigned a colour.
Micallef then asked Aburkhes to work with the students and put the performance together.
“After a week of memorizing lines, we noticed the play was becoming something much better than we expected,” Aburkhes said. “I suggested to him (Micallef) that we put on a show. He told me if I was up for it, we could do it, so that’s how the wheels got put in motion.”
Aburkhes began working on handmade costumes for each student in the play.
She contacted the school’s construction department and asked them to construct a life-size crayon box and settings for the show.
“This really made the play come to life,” Aburkhes said. “A week before the show, we realized additional assistance was needed to perfect it, so we asked a few Grade 10 students to help out. They became extras in the show to give it more life.”
The students rehearsed every day during lunch hour and after school.
They sold tickets for the play.
Aburkhes said as the money began to accumulate, she started thinking about the best way to use it.
“I thought, ‘It’s Christmas time, it’s the perfect time to give,’” she said. “I said to him (Micallef) that instead of using the money for the drama department, why not give it to people who need it more and since it’s a children’s play, why not give it to children in need? I suggested McMaster Children’s Hospital and he thought that was the perfect idea, so that’s what we decided to do.”
Aburkhes said the money was collected not only through ticket sales, but also via donations made on the day of the show.
“I left a jar out front for anyone who wanted to put extra money in,” she said. “Many people from the crowd rose to the opportunity to help the cause and threw in whatever they had on them. It was a huge success.”
Micallef said it was heartwarming to see the students come up with the idea.
“I think it’s amazing; it’s awesome. And the audience was incredible – it was like a love fest – the kids that came out from our school were very receptive and the parents were fantastic,” he said. “The funny thing about this whole cast was that they weren’t used to hearing clapping, so when the audience actually responded in that way, they were so surprised and they were so proud. I’m so happy for them, it was the best feeling I’ve had in a long time.”
Marg Jones, director of major gifts for McMaster Children’s Hospital, called the donation “wonderful.”
The hospital will put the money towards completing its pediatric ophthalmology campaign, she added.
“What I really love about it is that the students didn’t just give money, they gave part of themselves to do this for other kids. It’s so special and especially at this time of year,” she said. “One of the great things about this donation is that it will save lives because ophthalmology is one of the first ways that brain tumors, diabetes and some genetic defects can be identified in kids. We’re really grateful to the students for this donation and I want to applaud for what they’ve done.”