A cast of Grade 5 students in costume are across a theatre stage singing with their hands in the air.

Before becoming the Director of Junior School at SMUS, my role focused on leadership development and experiential learning across the school. Transitioning to work with younger students has only strengthened my belief in the value, at all levels, of providing students with impactful experiences to accompany foundational academics. Whether that occurs through play, outdoor education, considering solutions to real world issues, presenting to an authentic audience, or collaborating with a group.

One such experience that remains a highlight for our school is our Grade 5 musical. Several years ago, we committed to offering a musical, performed at the McPherson Playhouse, each year. This has become an embedded part of our Grade 5 program and it is such a valuable learning experience. 

At the Senior School, in the experiential program, we lean on Kolb's experiential learning model to deepen the growth from the experiences. The model emphasizes the importance of having an experience, reflecting on that experience, considering why things happened the way they did, and then applying that new knowledge. By following these steps, students can gain a deeper understanding and enhance their learning through real-world applications.

Three students dressed as wolves sit on their knees by a lone tree on stage.
From the 2022 Musical: Cinderella

While we aren’t speaking about Kolb’s model explicitly with our Grade 5 students, they are living it each day as they prepare for the upcoming musical, Annie Jr. Through rehearsals, they reflect on their performance and areas for improvement, they receive feedback from the Musical Director, Stephanie Geehan, and consider what went well and what could be improved. Next, they need to think about how their individual part (big or small) and actions affect other castmates and the outcome. Perhaps they try different things each time in rehearsal to determine which works best or falls flat. Finally, they apply all of this learning to their performances and are able to go on stage feeling ready and confident. Not only does this lead to a successful production, it also becomes a transferable skill to be applied in other areas down the road. 

Whether through the excitement and challenges of preparing for a Grade 5 musical or during a winter camping experience, these experiences create deep and lasting memories and learning. This enhances academic and personal growth and prepares students for the world beyond the classroom. We are so excited to see our Grade 5s perform "Annie Jr." at the McPherson Theater on June 6 and 7!

For show and ticket information for Annie JR. visit Royal and McPherson Theatres Society event page.

Relive our past Grade 5 musicals: 

2023 Musical: The Descendants

2022 Musical: Cinderella: A Family Pantomime

2021 Musical: Super Happy Awesome News

2020 Musical: Robot vs Jeremy

2019 Musical : Shrek the Musical Jr.