In Praise of P.E.I. an instant hit

Eric McCarthy
Published on May 8, 2014

Bloomfield Elementary School students, from left, Sean Curtis, Brock Brink, Bennett Griffin, Madison Brown, Mary Anne Gard, Curtis Stone, Pierce Handrahan and Lexi Cormier groove to the music being played by their music teacheer Garth MacKay as they try out their costumes for their school's producion of 'In Praise of P.E.I.'

BLOOMFIELD – A music teacher who helped quarterback Bloomfield Elementary School’s production of In Praise of P.E.I. last week said the production offered more than entertainment value.

Garth MacKay noted “In Praise of P.E.I.,” which had been in development for nearly nine weeks, celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown meeting of the Fathers of Confederation and doubled as a unique learning experience.

“Those are not frills,” he said; “they are learning outcomes.”

Learning about P.E.I. and Canadian history, he explained, is part of the Grade 5 and 6 curriculum.

But for MacKay, the highlight of the production was seeing many students step out of their shell.

“I saw several students – quite a number of them – who were very, very shy, even during the process of this whole thing, and I saw them perform (Thursday) night like I had never seen before. To me it was amazing.”

He was also thrilled with how well received the production was, sharing that there is a possibility the production will be taken on the road.

“It is 2014 and these things need to happen,” he said of the production’s historical relevance during P.E.I. 2014 celebrations.

Many of the school’s staff members helped with the preparation of the production, including the making or finding of costumes, rehearsals and other roles.

From donations at the door and proceeds of a 50-50 and a bake sale, the afternoon and evening performances brought in about $1,500. After expenses, MacKay estimates close to $800 will be available for use in school projects.

The “In Praise of P.E.I.” project had two parts, recording of a CD and the stage performance. Between 70 and 75 students had stage parts. Including the recording of the “In Praise of P.E.I.” CD, about 100 students were involved. Copies of the CD are still available for purchase.

“I would say most people who were involved in it at all are kind of on Cloud 9,” MacKay added.