Clinton Elementary “Big Words Strong Words”


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Jan. 16 marks Martin Luther King Jr. day, so what better way to show our appreciation than a play.

Clinton Elementary second graders pay their respect in their own “Big Words Strong Words” play hosted in multiple schools around Lincoln. This has been a Clinton tradition for 28 years. The play is a way to teach children about equality in a fun way .

“Our school is so full of diversity, so we do these plays to give a message that we are all equal to each other,” Derek Johnson, director of “Big Words Strong Words,” said.

The second graders perform four acts. Each act explains their own story, from dinner conversations between the King family, to Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Second graders are sent home with permission slips and the first 20 to bring them in signed by their parent or guardian get to be in the play.

The play is not just for a little activity for the students to have some fun, It allows children to learn and educate others.. Students learn a lesson while getting to act it out. The play also allows children to experience acting at a young age and could start these kids roads to acting later in life.

Having a cast of students any age is stressful enough, but working with such a young group of individuals is a whole new level. Having students memorize lines took months of practice.

“We have practiced twice a week after school and have been doing so since late October.” Johnson said.

Another quality within the play is having a reliable cast and trustable students. Plays are delicate to execute, so working with a young cast takes time for perfection. Not having trustable and reliable students could definitely affect the play. This year, the Clinton Elementary play had a mix of both second and third graders. Although this play was meant for the second graders only, third graders were asked to step in and help at the last minute when illness and other circumstances took students out of the cast.

“One of the girls couldn’t make it to the practices anymore, so we lost a big part of the play. Luckily, the third graders came in and were able to memorize the lines and make the parts,” Johnson said.

This play was inspiring, and having these young students deliver it, made it even more powerful.