Fifth-graders in Antonette Hlinka’s class at Covert Avenue School in Elmont recently re-enacted a cooking show, “Delicious Dinners with Debbie,” as part of their reading studies. Following a week of rehearsals, the students delivered an in-class performance, demonstrating their discipline and dedication to curriculum-enriching supplemental activities.
“I think this is the best way to teach,” said Hlinka in regard to the play and other artistic endeavors her students regularly pursue as part of their everyday learning. “It all comes back into their writing,” she added. “My class starts writing from day one. Their writing and vocabulary is amazing.”
The show, part of the district’s “StoryTown” fifth-grade reading curriculum, starred Fiona Kurian as Debbie DeVille and Anthony Gioletti as Chef Rudy. Making it a real group effort, each student was assigned a role, from participating as an audience member, director or cameraman to acting as the sound engineer and musical accompanist. The performance was a show within a show, with the plotline following the actors and actresses before the show, during its “taping” and after the pretend cameras shut off.
In the performance, Debbie worked with Chef Rudy to make his famous chili. The re-enactment conveyed messages of cooperation and the ability to improvise on short notice to all of the students.
Hlinka emphasized that this and other similar creative activities act as motivators for the students to work harder. “Whenever you make something real, they never forget it,” she said. “It’s about the students.”