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1110 College NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Opera 2016!


Opera 2016!

Elizabeth Topliffe

The Miracle Tree—An Ecological Opera by William Bokout

Performed by Stepping Stones Montessori Students

April 29, 2016 at 6 PM

St. Cecilia Music Center, Royce Auditorium

Alumni Reception Immediately Following in the President’s Room

Stepping Stones’ guides are constantly looking for challenging and thrilling opportunities for our students to stretch themselves, while remaining in touch with what a child is capable of doing. That is why I’m thrilled to share that our students (Kindergarten through Upper Elementary) will all have a stage role in the 2016 Opera--The Miracle Tree by William Bokout.

Spring operas and musicals have an honored place in Stepping Stones Montessori School’s history. In the early years of the school, students performed on-stage at Civic Theater. They produced playbills, posters and memorized lines and songs.

A student-made poster advertising a spring musical from the 1980s

A student-made poster advertising a spring musical from the 1980s

Boy, did they memorize them! When touring the school or telling me about experiences they had at Stepping Stones, alumni most often reminisce about musicals and operas. I even had an experience in a bar where an unknown patron noticed my Stepping Stones shirt and demonstrated some of her dancing cow moves from her childhood musical!

Sarah Danielski, an alumna, parent of current students and staff member also refers often to her musicals. “I remember the rush of getting dressed as a grasshopper with tights and antennae. It was just exciting to be on a real stage with my peers, having to learn lines. It was all exciting.”

Why is an event like this so important? A theater production is an incredible undertaking, and provides our students with opportunities to lead and think creatively. Students will be directly involved in set construction and costume design as well as staging and the theatrical components of the production. In order to pull it off, elementary students will focus only on opera during the week of April 25-29.

Ryan DePersia, an alum, currently working as an architect in Chicago remembers, “Although I’m no longer involved in theatrical endeavors, I really love that I had the opportunity when I was at Stepping Stones to be a part of several plays. I really enjoyed my acting roles in the productions as well as my role as a part of something bigger. The lessons of teamwork and collaboration that these events provided were invaluable.”

Teamwork, creativity, collaboration and receiving constructive feedback are all important aspects to this transformative experience. “It’s an incredible adventure and they will come out of it a different person. No doubt about it,” notes Jav Caniff, upper elementary guide.

Students aren’t the only ones to benefit from these experiences! One of the most compelling aspects of the opera are the opportunities for parents. “These events are truly community events. Parents help sew costumes, build sets, chaperone students and offer transportation. They are part of the transformative experience of creating something for our whole community,” says Jan Reed, lower elementary guide.

"They accomplish something that they probably would never otherwise try in all of their lives, and it exposes students to a form of art that they might not otherwise experience," says Wilma Kiefer, former Upper Elementary guide.

"It is a great community event. It helps children understand that it is a process and it takes everyone to make the product beautiful. It is work. It is effort, and in the end, it is magical," notes Erica Shier.

This year’s event will take place on the stage at St. Cecilia Music Center’s Royce Auditorium, a beautiful and historic stage in Grand Rapids.

Royce Auditorium

Royce Auditorium

We are hoping to fund this event through underwriting. If you, a family member or friend wish to help enrich the experience of Stepping Stones Montessori students with the gift of opera, please consider making a donation to support us.


Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends and supporters of all kinds are invited to join us at the opera! We hope to see you there!