When an event is good, you do it several years in a row. If it’s really good, you make it a tradition. If it is absolutely phenomenal, well, then it must be the JK Variety Show.
It doesn’t seem to matter who you ask. You will get the same answer, “The JK Variety Show is the best assembly of the year!”
For 21 years, Junior Kindergarten students have been wowing their parents, teachers and students throughout the school with songs, dances and skits. At times the performances echo the popular current like recent versions of “What does the Fox Say?” and Pharell’s “Happy,” while at other times they reinvent a classic that has spanned generations, like this year’s retelling of “Little Bo Peep.”
Homeroom Teachers and Teaching Assistants in the Junior Kindergarten deserve much of the credit for the creativity of performances each year. Right after winter break, JK students are given a choice of what type of performing they would like to do. Then the JK faculty plan out the performances, and the students practice and rehearse almost every day until the performance in March.
Cheryl Kelly, Head of Early Childhood, emphasizes that there is a lot more going on in this preparation than just singing and dancing. “Planning and rehearsing for the JK Variety Show teaches so many things. Team work, collaboration, compromise, listening to others – all the social skills you need as a grown up.”
Getting ready for the show also reinforces a sense of community in the JK. “Children at this age are egocentric. This teaches them to be part of a team and to work together to achieve something,” Ms. Kelly said. “Most of these children will be together for the next 14 years, and this bonding experience is really special for them.”
Students who participate in the JK Variety Show have fond memories through their school years and into adulthood. Georgina Wells ’04, who just returned as a Humanities Teacher at GCS, was in one of the first JK Variety Shows. “The JK Variety Show is a cherished memory from my time at Grace. I can remember performing in the show, but what I remember best is all the time spent rehearsing in the classroom, practicing with my own group and watching other groups practice their acts. It was an exciting, and I'm sure formative, experience to be involved in a collaborative project that took hard work, preparation, and responsibility at such a young age,” Ms. Wells said.
Sarah Balkin Adler, now the director of financial aid at GCS, held the first JK Variety Show when she was a JK homeroom teacher in 1994. Sarah said, “We started the show because we wanted students to have a chance to accentuate their talents and show off the things they love.” She went on to say, “Everyone is always so impressed because four year olds are capable of doing a lot more than people realize. It’s amazing to watch the growth that comes out of two and a half months of preparation.”
JK homeroom teacher Marilyn Sapperstein said, “When I started at Grace 20 years ago, the JK Variety Show was already a hit. We’ve kept it going because it addresses a side of kids' learning that is not in any other discipline. We're always surprised by the kids who step up, particularly on performance day.”
When it comes to the more than two decades of staying power that the JK Variety Show, Ms. Sapperstein’s thoughts summarize it best. “The main reason it has been going on this long is because everyone loves it. Everyone.”