The Young Shakespeareans Program is an important and integral entity in our partner schools. It has proven instrumental in elevating test scores among participating students, motivates younger students to strive toward eligibility when they come of age, and is a great source of pride and achievement for the surrounding neighborhood, enabling them to attract support from the wider community. As importantly, everyone witnesses the students' potential manifested early in life, creating a strong foundation, framework of support, and path to fulfill their promise and their future.
"Thank you so much for your work at Nevin Avenue Elementary School. It was an amazing experience for the student performers, teachers, and the students...it was truly an exceptional performance for them to experience.
"The students have experienced the hard work, the passion, and the commitment that it takes to produce a theatrical work of art. Additionally, the experiences reading and discussing an historical piece of literature were invaluable. At the end of the production, the students were not only able to answer questions from the audience about the literary text, but they were able to expound upon the opinions and beliefs that they had formed about the characters, the situations, and the timeless themes...they also learned about the technical aspects of production, assisting with the set and controlling the lighting.
"We look forward to continuing this tradition at Nevin. It brings so much to our students and the school community."
Rachael Sawyer, Principal
Nevin Avenue Elementary School
"I just want to say thanks for letting me do the lights. It was fun. Thanks for your advice and help. When you added me to Shakespeare, I got happy - you also made me lose boredness. It was the best play I have ever seen, and plus thanks for the pizza. Thanks for everything."
Roy, Grade 5
"I was awed and inspired by The Young Shakespeareans wonderful production. The love between a young Romeo and Juliet, as well as the years of family turf wars that ended in tragedy, were not lost on these children. Their performances showed a clear grasp of the play and their enthusiasm was infectious.
These lucky 5th graders were taught life skills that will help them successfully pursue any path they choose. They learned empathy by stepping into another person’s shoes, memorization techniques and how to speak in front of a group, the importance of responsibility to others, how to fine-tune their listening skills, and how to meet the challenge of multi-tasking by juggling rehearsals and homework.
It is my hope and dream that more children in underserved schools and communities will get the opportunity to join The Young Shakespearean future programs and have an experience that will shape their lives forever."
Susanne Winestock, Audience Member
"Thank you for helping with the Shakespeare program. You helped us project our voice. Enunciating was another skill you taught us, and our sword fighting skills were also because of you. You helped with our stance. I hope you one back again, to help others like you helped me."
Atzli, Grade 5
"I recently had the pleasure of seeing Romeo and Juliet at Nevin Avenue Elementary School in South Central Los Angeles. II am an avid lover (and playwright) of the theatre. What a delight to see young boys and girls show such commitment! These young thespians took their roles seriously and really understood the meaning of Shakespeare's words.
Helping young people develop confidence and courage by tackling the tricky language of our greatest playwright is commendable and should be encouraged. I thought often, while watching, that these students, no matter what their course through life might be, will never forget their time on this stage. The families of these students sat quietly, listened, laughed and applauded. Only afterwards was I told that many of these family members don’t speak English. This is a testament to what Art can do; bring people together through the common language of the stage. Bravo!"
Kathy Graf, Audience Member
"Thank you for letting me participate in the Shakespeare Program. It was fun and when we put on the play, I was very proud how the play came out. You made me overcome my fear of being on stage. It means so much to me, and I hope it means so much to you too.
I appreciate all the hard work you did for us, like supporting us, staying up so late to set the lights, make the props, and fixing my sword that was broken. Thank you for making the costumes and masks. These words can't explain how grateful I am. Thank you for everything."
Stephanie J., 5th Grade
"The results of the students' SBAC (California statewide test) just arrived.
The Young Shakespeareans from my class all show significant improvements in their tests. For example, Jade got a perfect score in Math, Emily is around 95 percentile in both Math and ELA, and Elden jumped 2 levels to "exceeds" in Math.
At first, I worried my Shakespeareans couldn't focus on their learning at that moment. In contrast, participating in The Young Shakespeareans definitely helped them improve their self-confidence. More importantly, it is a great discipline for these kids to set and to pursue a higher standard for themselves. Their test results are the proof.
Thank you very much for providing such a wonderful opportunity to our students."
So Sungwan, 5th Grade Teacher
West Vernon Elementary School
"I have followed the growth of The Young Shakespeareans program since its inception. Unfortunately, it was not available to me when I was in elementary school, but I personally participated in multiple theater programs all throughout school.
Each time our hard work and dedication paid off, we were rewarded with a true sense of euphoria and accomplishment. Because of these experiences, I learned at an early age how to see a project from start to finish, and evaluate its successes and challenges afterward. This has served me well in my post-secondary education, through undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as in my professional life.
When I see a Young Shakespeareans performance, I recognize the same sense of pride and self-confidence in each student's face. Students quickly learn that they depend on each other to attain their goal, as each of them hones their specific skills to support the team effort. There is no way to explain this sort of accomplishment to a young person; the only way to learn it is to be a part of it. This is the reason The Young Shakespeareans program is essential to its participants. It allows them to discover on their own terms, with the guidance and assistance of devoted, caring adults, what they are capable of doing individually and as part of a team."
Julia Long, Audience Member
"Thank you very very much for giving me the confidence to run for sixth grade class president, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to be in The Young Shakespeareans
"A Midsummer Night's Dream".
"If I can do Shakespeare
I can do anything!"
aka Peter Quince
"I have had the pleasure of working with The Young Shakespeareans Program as the 5th grade GATE teacher whose students were chosen to perform in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet".
The program was instrumental in my student's development, and I have seen them guide my students effectively - they have helped students get into character roles and use proven techniques to memorize lines. It is not just memorization, however, but the strategies they use to encourage meaning and comprehension in text...the program has encouraged the love of learning. They provide lessons that are meaningful, provide structure, and social context in clear, coherent lessons...
I wholeheartedly believe that they provide education, mentoring experiences for underserved populations. The Young Shakespeareans' commitment to work with my students has proven their dedication to the communities of the inner city."
Carolyn Suh, 5th Grade Teacher
Nevin Avenue Elementary School
"Oh, thank you for helping us become good actors in the play. Romeo and Juliet is a good play but you made it better.
The costume made me change. I did feel like Friar John. All of this has made me research more of Shakespeare's plays such as Macbeth.
"Thank you for making this play possible. You made our previous principal come. I missed her but being a Shakespearean helped us see her again. I will miss all of you. Hail Young Shakespeareans!"
Evelyn, Grade 5
"Thank you so much for your support to help my students improve their language development skills.
They are so happy to have the books and to take them home to read to their families. Some of the students said that in reading the book at home, their parents will also learn more English and vocabulary.
This new experience will help the students to develop more self-esteem, be able to participate in social relationships with students and adults, and also respect ideas and beliefs of others.
Once again, thank you for your kindness and the learning opportunity you gave my low socio-economic and bilingual students."
Karen Lara. Liaison Teacher
Nevin Avenue Elementary School
"Let me start off by saying you guys are amazing. Learning how to project and enunciate when I speak will change the way I speak for the better. Being a Young Shakespearean for 2 years is a great experience I definitely won't forget. I'm planning on becoming a chef so you can get a discount at my restaurant."
Gisela, 5th Grade
"I attended a Shakespeare play performed by students from Nevin Avenue Elementary School. I was impressed with the quality of the production, the talent of the students, the enthusiasm of the parents, and the commitment of the directors. It was amazing to find such a cultural enrichment activity hidden away in a South Central LA school. I believe it was an experience that will make an impact on the students for the rest of their lives.
I strongly feel this is a program that should be expanded to include other schools in economically disadvantaged areas."
John Cavalli, Audience Member
"Thank you for the program and the loving care you have given to us, The Young Shakespeareans. Romeo and Juliet was a great play and I am thankful that I took park in it. Thank you for your work and I hope the best for all of you."
Lucas, 5th Grade