Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 11-07-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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12 IN OUR SCHOOLS NOVEMBER 7-13, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE | PAWTUCKET EDITION Harwood said any misconceptions she had about homeschoolers have been completely erased as she's worked with AWIP students on "Newsies" and other productions. Cheryl McWilliams, assistant superintendent of the Pawtucket School Department, and former theater direc- tor at the school before moving on to become a principal and then top admin- istrator, recently joined the board at AWIP. Her daughter- in-law, Tolman graduate Michelle McWilliams, is the choreographer for the group, and her grandchildren are homeschooled students who partici- pate in AWIP's offerings. McWilliams said she's been impressed to see the growth of AWIP, and is thrilled to have her grandchildren be part of it. It's also great to see Tolman again have some form of theater program, she said. McWilliams recalls putting on some good produc- tions back in the day. Music teacher Michael Raymond's strength is in band and he's done a great job, she said, but no one has really taken up the cause of the theater program, with a couple of attempts to revive it coming up short. "The arts are really dear to my heart, and I just want to see it grow and get bigger, with the ultimate goal of bringing attention to our beauti- ful, renovated auditorium," she said. School bonds on the ballot this week will hopefully help continue improv- ing facilities, added McWilliams. McWilliams is a believer that each family has different schooling needs. There are sometimes misconceptions that homeschooling a student means that someone finds inner city schools not good enough, she said, but as someone who had three students go through local public schools, that's simply not true. Local homeschool families can be as much a part of the public school com- munity as they want to be, she said. "Really what it comes down to, it's about the children," she said. Jeni Roca, direc- tor at AWIP, said she was always intent on using her experience on Broadway and with a theater educa- tion in New York to give students the best experience possible through a production company, but had no idea this is what it would eventually look like. The Tolman theater was just sort of "thrown in our lap" several years ago, said Roca, and when she learned through Raymond about the lack of a theater program, she began brainstorming ways AWIP could help out. When AWIP's out- reach group, Salt + Light, first vis- ited Raymond's class with its mix of music and activities several years ago, many AWIP students were nervous about how they would be accepted, she said, after a negative experience at a private school. The exact opposite ended up happening, she said, as Tolman students erupted in applause after each song and even joined Salt + Light's Brandon Perkins in singing around the piano. Two years ago, only about three Tolman students participated in AWIP's production of "The Wiz." Last year, some 15-20 members of the Tolman Junior ROTC were in "White Christmas," and this year about 10 students are taking part in "Newsies." This week, a volunteer painter with AWIP will paint the stage at Tolman for a third time, part of a long-running agreement allowing the group to use the facility in exchange for improvements. Numerous upgrades have been made, said Patty McLernon, of AWIP, as volunteers have put in countless hours into the facility. Next spring students from the Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts will use the set from "Newsies" for their own production of "A West Side Story." Roca and BREEZE PHOTO BY ETHAN SHOREY Some TOLMAN HIGH SCHOOL students are part of "Newsies," put on by home- school group A Work in Progress Productions at the school. Pictured are, front from left, Allisa Dantzler, Stephanie Harwood and Rodrigo Espinal-Curvelo, back row, from left, Elizabeth Cordoba, Xavier Duran and Maria Recillas. The partnership has invigorated interest in Tolman's auditorium and led to many upgrades to the facility. PARTNERSHIP From Page One CHERYL MCWILLIAMS ROCA Continues on next page RAYMOND Klibanoff Eye Associates Welcomes Dr. Mona Aoude Klibanoff Now accepting New Patients 55 Broad Street, Pawtucket, RI 401-723-3400 Dr. Klibanoff specializes in primary eye care including comprehensive eye exams, treatment of ocular diseases, glasses and contact lens service, and the pre and post operative management of cataract and LASIK surgery patients. Tuesday and Wednesday 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday 7:30 a.m.-12 p.m.; Closed Sunday & Monday

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