“Big Words, Strong Words” Comes to North Star

Clinton 2nd graders perform play based on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. to North Star students.

By Gator Galaxy Staff

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Tawfi Abdalla) gives his "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington D.C. as a part of the play "Big Words, Strong Words" in the North Star High School auditorium on Thursday, Jan. 23.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (Tawfi Abdalla) gives his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington D.C. as a part of the play “Big Words, Strong Words” in the North Star High School auditorium on Thursday, Jan. 23.
Photo by Alex Becker/Gator Galaxy Staff

Second graders at Clinton Elementary School have been learning about more than just reading, writing and arithmetic since the start of the school year.  For over 20 years, these students have been presenting the play, “Big Words, Strong Words” to family, friends, and community members.  The play celebrates the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and students started working on the production in November.

Willie Banks has been performing this play with Clinton 2nd graders since 1990, after a colleague introduced him to the script.  The students started by performing at Clinton.  After a few years, parents and others encouraged Banks to expand, so they did.  In previous years, 2nd graders have performed at school board meetings, the Gold Star Banquet, the National Guard, and for the students of North Star High School.  This year he turned the reigns over to special education teacher Derek Johnson.

Dilyn Ryan said he was scared at first when he took the stage at North Star.  “There’s a lot of kids here,” Ryan said.

All students agreed the road to the stage was not an easy one.  Aydaline Castillo Perez said the hardest part for her was learning all her lines, while Khalil Pool said it was making sure to be quiet backstage while they were waiting to go on. Talking loud for everyone in the audience to hear was something Dustin Dvorak thought was hard, but Kenyon Mathis thought the most difficult thing was all the hard work it took to prepare for the final performance.

The students are quick to admit that, while it was hard, they had fun while learning about the history of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Yelaniya Bradley like that she got to wear funny costumes. Leonardo Ortiz Rodriguez said he like the song at the end, “We got to link hands and we got to say our names. And Tawfi Abdalla said, “I learned to be truthful and helpful.” Abdalla played Martin Luther King, Jr.

Second grade students from Clinton Elementary school join hands and sing "We Shall Overcome" at the conclusion of their play "Big Words, Strong Words" in the North Star auditorium on Thursday, Jan. 23.
Second grade students from Clinton Elementary school join hands and sing “We Shall Overcome” at the conclusion of their play “Big Words, Strong Words” in the North Star auditorium on Thursday, Jan. 23.
Photo by Ethan Molifua/Gator Galaxy Staff

In this three act performance, the audience learns about King as a child, visits him during his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington D.C.,  and ends with the students linking hands and singing, “We Will Overcome.”

Clinton Elementary is the only school in Lincoln to put on this performance each year.