Grade 5/6 Class Performs Class Play: "Paikea-A Modern Tale"

From Class Teacher Claudia Reinhardt: On March 14th and 15th, the nineteen students of Class 5/6 performed their class play, "Paikea - A Modern Tale," for families, friends, and fellow students at the Plainfield Opera House. Ten years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Christchurch, New Zealand where I observed a class at the Christchurch Steiner School that was listening to Maori stories told by their teacher. I was fascinated by the stories, purchased a book at a local bookstore that afternoon, and have since incorporated these wonderful stories into the curriculum I bring to students. The Bay School Model, which we have adopted as a school, especially makes this creativity possible.

The class play was inspired both by the story of Paikea as well as Witi Ihimaera's book The Whale Rider, which I read to the students back in the fall. The play told the story of a girl, Pai, whose grandfather does not want a girl to become the chief of his tribe. It also tells, in monologue form, the story of a young whale who loses its mother to whaling. Grief-struck, it journeys to Antarctica and eventually beaches itself in order to seek death. A meeting of the whale and Pai takes place, revealing to all that she is an honored descendant of Paikea, the ancient whale rider himself, and a worthy leader of her tribe.

The play opened with a scientific look at whales. Did you know that whales used to be dog-sized, land-roaming creatures? Did you know that two spacecraft launched in the 1970s contain a copper record with recordings of whalesong? 5th and 6th graders performed an energetic "Ka Mate" Haka as part of the play, and students on violins, cello, and guitar played beautiful interludes of a whalesong piece. It was a meaningful experience for the students and they received many compliments for their outstanding performance.

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