The Magic of Opera Charms Students in All Three Elementary Schools
Cherry Avenue Music teacher Kristi Woerner has been singing the praises of an exciting activity for years. Since 2017, she has introduced her elementary students to opera through the Met's HD Live in Schools program that brings opera into the classroom. The education department at the Metropolitan Opera offers Educator Guides, classroom resources, and in-person events. In this way, “the Met has been providing teachers with the tools to make opera first accessible, then thrilling, to their students.”
Mrs. Woerner credits High School Music colleague Karen DiMartino for introducing her to the program. Mrs. DiMartino had originally launched the program with her High School students in 2014. During a typical academic year, the High School programed had students going to the local movie theaters to view three or four operas and attend one live performance at the Met. This year, Mrs. DiMartino’s High School Chorus students streamed La Fille du Regiment (The Daughter of the Regiment) and as class assignments made a Romeo and Juliet (opera) and West Side Story (Broadway) comparison.
However, a new opportunity at the elementary level had Mrs. Woerner hitting the high notes of excitement. “Fourth- and Fifth-Grade students in all three elementary schools have been diving into Opera!” she exclaimed. “This is the first time Lincoln and Sunrise has tried it.”
Adjusting the program to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions, the HD Live in Schools program could not offer participating school districts tickets to attend performances at local movie theaters. Mrs. Woerner noted that in past years, they would “see an opera in the movies, and one opera live at the Met. Last year we went to the Met just five days before everything shut down!”
Despite pandemic setbacks, the Met’s HD Live in Schools program followed the well-known theatre tradition. To enable the show to go on, they generously provided Mrs. Woerner with training and virtual material, as well as access for the Sayville elementary students to view live-streamed operas online. On the plus side, having remote access allowed for sharing the program and bringing opera into all three Sayville elementary schools.
Over the four-week program, the Sayville School District students were introduced to this art form, saw clips and interviews with real opera stars, took a virtual tour of the Met, and finished with watching Mozart's "Magic Flute.” “It was inspiring and enjoyable for all,” Mrs. Woerner said, “and left students wanting more!”
While one fifth-grader Kailyn remarked, "It's really interesting. I look forward to learning more about it!" other fifth-graders Jane and Kayla added, "I hope I can see an opera in person one day soon." Fourth-grader Avery admitted, "I didn't know much about opera, but I learned a lot." He also thought it was "nothing like a movie but still good!"
Mrs. Baron, Mrs. Cirillo and Mrs. Woerner were very proud of their students and are very grateful to the Metropolitan Opera for this opportunity.