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CLIMB Theater performed two shows at Valley Crossing on Jan. 6. One of the shows, "Valentines Day," tells the story of three fifth graders, who consider themselves outsiders, that discuss what it means to be a good friend on the school playground. One of the rules of being a good friend, according to the play, is to compromise and not ridicule.

Making friends at school

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Making friends in school is something many students struggle with.

Valley Crossing Community School taught its students the valuable lessons of friendship and social interaction during two separate performances, produced by CLIMB Theater, on Jan. 6.

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"We really believe the social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum because they need to feel good socially in order to learn," Valley Crossing teacher Heather Bovee said. "It's very powerful when everybody can hear the same thing at the same time, plus it was nice to have somebody else sharing the things we say all the time."

CLIMB, which stands for Creative Learning Ideas for Mind and Body, brings character education programming into schools and other educational settings.

Its mission is to create and perform plays, classes and other works that inspire and propel young people toward actions that benefit themselves, each other, and the community. CLIMB's programming is available in a variety of formats, including plays, interactive classroom activities, and professional development workshops for students and administrators.

The two performances that CLIMB brought to Valley Crossing last week were titled "Valentine's Day" and "The Great Tooth Exchange."

Both plays share the message of friendship and social skills.

"It's especially important at this age to teach these lessons since these students are in elementary school and now is the first social interactions of their life," Kyra Warren, a CLIMB actor, said.

Making school friends

The first performance, "Valentine's Day," which is for grades 3 through 6, tells the story of three fifth graders who are all relative outsiders and spend time on the playground after school. One of the students, Eddie, is sitting alone when another student, Beth, begins throwing candy at him. The two students begin talking about how Eddie only received two Valentine's cards this year. Soon after, another student, Tess, joins the group and tries to teach Beth and Eddie how to be friends and how to make friends. The play continues discussing how to compromise, how to include other and how to give comfort.

The second play, "The Great Tooth Exchange," for kindergarten through second grade, tells the story of Brody who refuses to lose her tooth because she wants the Tooth Fairy to give her friends rather than money. Since this isn't possible, the Tooth Fairy gives Brody a CD, which has songs about making friends and being a good friend. Additionally, two of Santa's elves come to help Brody be a friend. The play focuses on lessons such as sharing, taking turns and playing by the rules.

Warren said it is very important for students to learn lessons of friendship and social skills early on since it will help later in life.

"If you can get that foundation and re-enforce the things their parents and teachers have been teaching them about sharing and being nice to each other it will be great in the long term," she said. "Plus the kids can relate to what we're telling them."

Quintin Brown, another CLIMB actor, agrees with Warren.

"When you start early telling kids about making friends, it's instilled in them easier," he said.

All of the CLIMB actors said stressing friendship and social skills these days is really important because of all of the bullying problems that seem to be in the forefront.

"Bullying is a really really hot topic right now," CLIMB actor Joann Oudekerk said. "Kids these days have a really hard time. Bullying happens all the time, so these kids need to learn how to approach each other and relate to one another -- how we relate rather than how we differ is really important."

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
(651) 702-0976
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