The students and staff at Walnut Elementary in Turlock are full of Christmas spirit, perhaps more so than past years, as they prepare for the grand return of in-person, indoor holiday plays this month. A total of three plays will mark the first time since the winter of 2019 that the campus will host performances in front of live audiences.
Third grade teacher Robin Swartz explained that, until this year, most productions were prerecorded and had to be done outside. Now, there are no restrictions, and the kids are back on the big stage.
“This year will be the first year in a while that students will be able to perform inside for not just parents, but our student body,” Swartz said.
Walnut is a participant in TUSD’s Renaissance & Discovery Magnet program, which provides students with specialized educational experiences through a S.T.E.A.M lens (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math). Visual performing arts is one of the many subjects that the school has a strong focus on.
“Walnut is very big on putting on grand productions throughout the year, so this is very exciting for us,” said second grade teacher Shelby Avilla.
This year’s holiday productions kicked off with “The Grinch,” which was put on by the third graders last week. This Thursday at 6 p.m., the kindergarteners will be performing “Christmas at the Hop.” The fun will continue next week when the second graders take the stage for the original production, “Property Sisters: Gingerbread Edition” on Wednesday at 6 p.m. “Property Sisters” is a play based on the hit HGTV real-estate show “Property Brothers,” with a humorous storyline focusing on gingerbread houses.
“The amount of work that goes into Walnut's productions is amazing,” said Swartz. “My new quote is, ‘Walnut is back, baby!’”
And the performances won’t end with the Christmas productions. Early next year, Walnut will be hosting its annual and highly anticipated spring musical. The springtime show has already been announced and will be “Lion King Jr.”
“We hope that we can get people out to our campus and see just how hard the kids and staff work on these productions,” Abilla said. “It’s really something special when they take the stage.”