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A.L. Lotts students sing for Children’s Day

A.L. Lotts Elementary School celebrated its sixth annual International Children’s Day program through dance and song, Dec. 11, 2009.

Fifth-grade students took center-stage in Lotts’ gym, surrounded by parents, fellow students and special guests such as Knox County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jim McIntyre and former Lotts principal Emily Lenn.

Eight fifth-grade TAG students took turns introducing performances by the fifth-grade classes.

Vinila Baljepally, Cate O’Donnell, Juliana Pulsinelli, Connor Rubin, Chase Weida, Farhan Tejan, Michael Tarantino and Ava Ferguson were TAG students selected to read from a script written by Lotts teacher Rosemary Talley. Principal Susan Turner, new to Lotts in 2009, opened and closed the production.

Kindergarten through fourth-grade students sat facing the fifth-graders on their bleachers. While seated, they performed their hand motions and joined the fifth-grade students in songs about celebrating and uniting children worldwide.

Children were encouraged to dress to represent the country they are from. Whether born in the United States or Russia, China or Germany, students took part in representing the country that was once home to them or their family members.

All the children at Lotts learned “A Song for the Children.” As part of the song, the children sang “hello” in various languages, using hand gestures to coincide with the country.

A traditional Russian folk dance, Troika, was performed by Lindsey Sellmer’s fifth-grade class and taught by Lotts music teacher Marian Ward. The name, Troika, means “three-horse team” in Russian. With a partner, the dancers “prance” as a horse would while pulling a sled or carriage.

The other ethnic dance, Zum Gali Gali, an Israeli work-song, was directed by Lotts music teacher Brenda Swinson and performed by Nancy Dunn’s fifth-grade class. The song originates at the formation of the State of Israel and speaks of what it is was like to work in the fields. The dance includes motions involving concentric circles, imitating work in a field. Drums and ukuleles provide the rhythm.

Kenneth Coker, Lotts physical education teacher, taught Linda Hagaman’s and Gloria Prin’s fifth-grade classes a “Planet Rock” dance, complete with hand-painted papier mâché body armor and helmets created in art class. The dance was similar to a life-size computer game.

The festivities didn’t stop there. Students had created pieces of art with themes children around the world know: sun, moon and stars. The artwork was displayed throughout Lotts’ hallways. Scriptwriter Talley wrote circles, spheres and stars can encourage the “imagination [to] take flight.”

In 1925, San Francisco, Calif. was the first city in the U.S. to celebrate and promote the program for International Children’s Day.

However, over time, the program phased out. After decades of the U.S. not participating, Summit, N.J., began celebrating Children’s Day in 2000.

In 2005, Summit Mayor Jordan Glatt announced Knoxville as Summit’s sister city in celebrating the day. Lotts was asked specifically to be the school to hold the celebration.


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