HMA Performing Arts students perform for third graders at the Barn Theater | Pictures

On Friday, students from the Harmony Magnet Academy of Performing Arts performed a short play, “Career Kids” for third-grade classes in the Porterville Unified School District at the Barn Theater.

The third-grade students, along with their teachers, came in three different sessions to see the play.

The short play used music and dance to keep the energy high, with children on screen talking about what they want to be when they grow up.

Host Carol Gutierrez spoke to the audience about the show and said, “We see real people on stage and we have to be a very nice audience and clap your hands.”

A firefighter and a policeman, played by Anali Alcantar and Erik Ortiz are interviewed by the host and commentator. Next, a computer technician, played by Tiff Ortega, was interviewed after lights started flashing onstage (on purpose) during the performance.

Next, a pediatrician, played by Cambria Arias, was interviewed, along with a nurse, played by Paul Gonzales. Arias held his stethoscope to an audience volunteer’s chest and heard his heartbeat, and Gonzales showed a boy from the audience how to perform chest compressions on a CPR dummy. Next, a teacher, played by Jocelyn Ibarra, was interviewed and said she liked her job.

After the short skits, the musicians played “Believer” from Imagine Dragon which they played at the start of the show, and all the children sang and clapped.

It was a really fun interactive show, and the third graders really got involved and had a blast. They were also a respectful and wonderful audience.

Gutierrez played host and said she loved it at the barn, and had never been there before, and it was unique.

Adrian Ayala played trumpet in the band and loved being at the barn. “I thought I would be nervous, but I’m not. It’s really fun to be here and I’m looking forward to next time.”

Caitlin Plumlee played at The Barn for years and said it felt like a second home to her. She was a vocalist in the harmonics of the play, and she also talked to the kids before the show and got them excited about the show. “I think it’s really great that we can give third-grade kids the opportunity to explore their career options.”

PUSD Board Chair Lilian Durban and PUSD Deputy Superintendent Brad Rohrbach thoroughly enjoyed the show, as well as Pathways Director Cynthia Brown, Pathways Director of Learning Eric Santos , and Pathways coach Rhonda Wilen.

Barn Theater’s Denise Everhart said the HMA Academy of Performing Arts students were an amazing group of kids, supporting and encouraging each other, and really worked together on all aspects of their performances.

“This really is a great opportunity for The Barn Theater and PUSD Pathways to come together and support each other with local art in the community. Gordy Plaisted and Charles Hickinbotham are at the heart of it all,” Everhart said.

“It’s been amazing and it’s thanks to our Passport students. These kids have so much respect for each other. And they were all in their place and ready to go without a word from the principal. I have to give it to the ‘teacher Passport for creating such a community of students,’ said Plaisted.

In the play “Career Kids”, the careers presented were traditional: firefighter, policeman, doctor/paediatrician, nurse, teacher and IT professional. But also the professions of musician, singer and dancer, show host and announcer were also highlighted.

The show was very positive, entertaining and was a good way to let the kids know that they can do whatever they want, just be brave and strong, as a song goes towards the end of the show. It was uplifting and stimulating.

The audience of children and teachers was extremely enthusiastic throughout the production. The children sang the songs, clapped and enjoyed the interactive fun of the play. They really got involved, asked questions and gave their opinion when asked what they wanted to be when they grew up.

As they walked out after the show, the kids nodded when asked if they enjoyed the show and had fun.

Tiff Ortega, who played the computer technician, said: “It was really fun to see all the little kids reacting to the show.

“Cindy Brown had a vision for this show a few years ago,” Wilen said, “and we prepared for it, but then COVID happened.

We relaunched it this year and here it is. Our main goal is to remind children that they have skills and talents that they can cultivate for years to come. But we don’t expect third-year students to know what their career will be, but they can develop their skills, talents and interests.”