VIDEO: Elementary school students shine on center stage as pandemic protocols ease

Students from Sonora Elementary School brought their talents to center stage as they performed Disney’s “Moana Jr.” in April. What they didn’t bring were their masks.  

With the state easing many COVID-19 safety protocols, schools and districts across the county are continuing to welcome back a sense of normalcy, and many educators and students are turning to the arts for expression and entertainment.  

“It provides an opportunity for the children to explore creative outlets,” Susie Farnsworth, a sixth-grade teacher at Sonora Elementary said, adding that the play “is directly aligned with the visual and performing arts standard provided by the state of California.” 

One of the student performers was Claire, who is learning to embrace working and acting alongside her peers.  

“It honestly gives me a lot of confidence to do stuff that would be beneficial to me,” Claire said.  

Sitting in the audience as students performed inside the Costa Mesa High School Performing Arts Center was Dr. Wesley Smith, superintendent of Newport-Mesa Unified School District.  

“The arts are essential to successful public education,” Dr. Smith said. “They engage students. Kids often come to school just so they can participate in the arts. It teaches them amazing skills. It teaches them to practice, to prepare, work hard with others, and be confident in public.”  

Without the arts, the superintendent believes it just wouldn’t be whole child education. 

To show how the arts are returning to form at local schools, OCDE’s Media Services team caught up with performers and staff from Sonora Elementary to produce the brief video above.