PLAYBILLDER Spotlight: This New York Elementary School Performed a Bilingual Aladdin | Playbill

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Education News PLAYBILLDER Spotlight: This New York Elementary School Performed a Bilingual Aladdin

At Mount Kisco Elementary School's first ever theatrical production, students discovered their own superpowers.

Welcome to this week's PLAYBILLDER Spotlight, a new Playbill initiative highlighting shows and events from educational institutions around the country (who have used Playbill's program-building service). By welcoming these PLAYBILLDERs center stage, we hope to give our readers a more in-depth look at theatre programs that are fostering the love of the performing arts in the next generation.

Guide: How To Build Your Own Custom Program with PLAYBILLDER

This week's featured school is Mount Kisco Elementary School, of Mount Kisco, New York, and their production of Disney's Aladdin Dual-Language Edition. Based on the beloved Disney animated film, the children's musical unfolds in the city of Agrabah, centuries ago, when royalty spoke one language and the citizens spoke another. When the headstrong princess, Jazmin, encounters the street savvy Aladdin, they recognize something special in each other and work, with a little magic, to transcend the barriers between them for the benefit of all of Agrabah. 

Aladdin is also the first theatrical show ever at Mount Kisco. Teaching Assistant Valerie Groccia shared why it was important to choose a show that allowed students to speak both English and Spanish, and how the arts program has already transformed the students.

Mount Kisco Elementary School students

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
Valerie Groccia: 
As an avid dancer, the arts have been a part of my identity since I began taking ballet classes. I continued to dance throughout my years in college and teach classical ballet at a local dance studio. 

This was Mount Kisco Elementary school's first production ever. We were grateful to pilot Disney's Aladdin Dual Language Edition as we are a dual language bilingual elementary school (students speak both Spanish and English). This is my second year teaching, and this was momentous for our bilingual students, our school, and our community. 

Can you share a little bit about the value you see in having a performing arts program in schools?
The performing arts are an outlet for many of our students. Many of them do not have the opportunity to take [art] classes outside of school. Therefore, bringing the arts to our community provides students with exposure to art through theatre. The students lit up the stage through their ability to deliver a show in two languages with ease by the end of our production. 

What is your proudest moment as an educator?
My proudest moment is seeing [the students'] true selves shine on and off the stage. They have developed an even greater understanding of who they are and the world they want to create. Through dual language education, we provide a narrative that provides visibility for all students to see themselves through art, media, and beyond.

Mount Kisco Elementary School students

Tell us a little bit about the production. What made you pick this show?
We are forever grateful to Lisa Mitchell, the Director of Education & Audience Engagement at Disney who presented this to our school. 

What are the kids loving about this show?
As we prepared students for the stage, we reminded them the story behind Aladdin, that being your true self is the greatest gift you could ever give to yourself and others. It demands the audience to consider how they can be their true selves in all facets of their life. Being bilingual is a superpower! Reminding students to be proud of their identity is vital to the community we create at Mount Kisco Elementary School. The students were so excited to show off their talent and display their hard work on stage in front of their families and peers. Without any prior experience, many of them took the challenge and surprised themselves with how much they achieved in this production. 

How did the students participate in the design or production of this Playbill? What reactions do you expect to see in students when they see their name printed in this Playbill for the first time? 
The design of this Playbill was created based on how we wanted to represent our community. As the creator of the Playbill, I made sure to include student input by sharing drafts of the Playbill as we went through the process. Students felt famous and rightfully so. As members of the press come to interview them, many students held the Playbill near to their hearts as it represented all of them. These students made history this year, and we are fortunate enough to keep that going at Mount Kisco Elementary School.

For a seamless design process, head to for your next show's program. Who knows, you might just be featured in our next PLAYBILLDER Spotlight!

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