Most elementary students have never attended an opera. Coit Creative Arts Academy fourth- and fifth-grade students have created, produced and performed one.

The project, done in partnership with Opera Grand Rapids Children's Opera, was led by the Creative Connections arts education organization. Twelve students from Coit, a Grand Rapids Public School, went through intensive workshops the week before the Nov. 17 show. They had a lot of fun, but the opera the students wrote, "Feelings Gallery," dealt with serious emotions like being confused, hurt and depressed. It also found positive hope in people and brought out the students' talents.

"It's fun to create," said vocalist Brooklynne Larocque. "It's fun to hang out with other people and create things."


Before each rehearsal, the group focused through calming exercises like those being done by (from left) Javan Lacey, Jack Helak and Amado Huner
Music teacher Deb Perry helped students polish the piece while Phoebe Bell, right, waited for her part
Langston Ezell learned about the beat of the drums
Jill Collier Warne, left, is the director of Creative Connections, an organization that brings people together to “express their stories, ideas and emotions through music.” Lyric Whiting, right, was one of the violinists in the production
By Linda Odette courtesy of School News Network