Lakeridge Elementary is preparing to present its 50th operetta. This year’s production will be “The Wizard of Oz.”
Each year, the entire fifth-grade class at Lakeridge Elementary performs an operetta — a spring musical. Nancy Kezner, a former Lakeridge Elementary teacher, has been a part of it for the past 49 years.
“This school has always supported the music and the arts,” she said. “It’s become a beloved, longstanding tradition here to have the fifth-grade musical.”
Some of the early operettas included “The Pirates of Penzance,” “H.M.S. Pinafore,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “The Pied Piper of Hamlin.”
The first few operettas were performed by volunteer students who rehearsed after school. Soon after, it changed to just the sixth-grade class performing the operetta. Once sixth grade moved to middle school, the operetta tradition was passed down to the fifth graders.
“It takes a village,” Lakeridge teacher Heather McLyman said. “It involves the music teacher, P.E. teacher, all the fifth-grade teachers and parent volunteers to make this happen. We couldn’t do it without everyone’s support.”
The fifth-grade class rehearses every day during first and second recess from December through early March. Every student has a role, whether it’s on stage or as part of the crew.
“It’s become something that every student gets excited for,” McLyman said. “Every child is involved — speaking, singing, dancing, props and so on.”
This year’s production is one of Lakeridge Elementary’s largest with 110 fifth graders. To accommodate such a large class, the teachers chose “The Wizard of Oz.”
“It’s a wonderful show, and it’s easy to allow every student a part,” McLyman said.
For Lakeridge Elementary music teacher Tyler Stevens, this is his second operetta.
“It’s a blast,” he said. “It’s been wonderful to get so much help from past teachers and parents.”
The annual musical gives students an opportunity to stretch themselves and try something they may have never done before, Kezner said.
“One of the best parts is seeing the sparkle in their eyes as they perform and how proud they are,” McLyman said. “Seeing them come out of their shell and be celebrated while doing something all together.”
McLyman said she looks forward to the school continuing the operetta for years to come.
“It really takes a community to put this together,” she said. “We have parents helping now who were part of the operetta years ago. People clearly find what we do to be important and worthwhile.”
The Lakeridge Elementary fifth-grade class will perform “The Wizard of Oz” at 10-11 a.m. and 6:30-8 p.m. on March 4 in the school’s gym.
To learn more about the performance, go online to https://www.mercerislandschools.org/.