The magic of theater in a school curriculum contributed to children spending their vacation reading poems and stories that caused a reaction leading to a stage presentation about kindness.

using technology to present ideasAt Kelly School in Holyoke, nearly 200 students were selected to participate in the Holyoke Public Schools Anne Cullen Vacation Academy. Instead of taking time off, they focused on speaking, writing, and reading skills guided by the Enchanted Circle Theater, which has worked for many years with the schools including arts in the curriculum.

“We try to make it engaging. It’s about learning, but it leads to a performance at the end of the week,” said Stephen K. Zrike. He is the the state-appointed receiver who manages the Holyoke public schools.

Anne Cullen was a teacher at Kelly, Peck, and Holyoke High Schools for 30 years. The academy was named for her when she died in a car crash last year.

The children participated in small group instruction, which was intended to accelerate their learning.

“Friday’s event (was) held to celebrate the students who have participated and to showcase what they have learned,” said Judy Taylor, public schools spokeswoman.

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