Students Re-Create Carnival Village

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People at Green Valley Park Friday afternoon witnessed angels and eagles walking among fairies, dancing flames and skipping musical notes.

The spectacle was part of a special event hosted by Julia Randall Elementary School and the culmination of a week-long artist-in-residence program, mixing education and entertainment.

During the week, students, teachers and parents took part in workshops and demonstrations of steel drum playing and carnival costume making under the direction of Rawle Fraser and Marsha Thomas of the Phoenix-based "Caribbean Zone" steel drum group.

"It was non-stop excitement," acting principal Will Dunman said. "Students wanted to learn. Many students really came out of their shells and were very creative with their costumes and the questions they asked the instructors."

Costumes were related to the music being played during the festival, referred to as a Caribbean Carnival Village. The more elaborate costumes, such as an eagle with an 18-foot wingspan, were provided by Caribbean Zone and came from past Fiesta Bowl celebrations.

The workshops and carnival involved the entire JRE student body and were made possible through a grant from the Arizona Arts Commission with matching funds from Credit for Kids.

During the final event at the park Friday, JRE fifth-grade students presented an energetic musical performance on authentic steel drums.

"The drums were cool," said JRE student Sean Ford. "They looked really complicated to play at first. I was really glad we got to do this."

"I saw students that haven't been exposed to a lot of different cultures get really excited about this," Dunman said. "It was very well received by our students and the community. We thank the people who came out to watch and the town parks and recreation department for their support."

This program was brought to Payson through the efforts of JRE Principal Ardyth Potter, who had coordinated a similar activity in Blue Ridge. Potter was unable to attend the event.

"We've got lots of pictures for her so she'll see it was a huge success," Dunman said.

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