Norton, VA - The curtain are closing on musical theater programs throughout Southwest Virginia, but at Norton Elementary and Middle School, the program is thriving.
"Even though you don't look at music as something important, it's obviously important to the majority of kids here at our school," music teacher Gabby Barnett says.
72 students ranging from fourth grade to seventh grade participated in "Seussical the Musical" this spring, more than any other after school activity. But the final product would not have been the same if Barnett did not go the extra mile. She spent a couple thousand dollars out of her own pocket to make sure her kids had the best costumes possible and a set that matched the quality of the play.
"Any teacher that cares about their kids and their school would go the extra mile to make sure kids have what they need," she says.
The performers say they wouldn't have wanted to learn from anyone else.
"She taught us a lot more than other teachers would," Clay Hart, a sixth grader who played Mr. Mayor in the production says. "She taught us to sing and our vocal cords and all that stuff."
"All that stuff" he's referring to is confidence.
"She helps you build confidence that you can do this character," Shamiyea Noel, a seventh grader who played the Sassy Kangaroo in the production says. "You just have to go out of your comfort zone."
Barnett hopes the lesson's she's teaching her students now will benefit them in the next phase of their lives.
"I've learned so much," Owen Hayes, a seventh grader who played Horton the Elephant says. "It'll help me in the future and in high school trying to get some of those roles."
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