PhotoS by Ethan Lovell
âFairiesâ from the TECS Rising Stars after-school program.
Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS) held its third Variety Show on April 3, at Will Geerâs Theatricum Botanicum. It is a glorious celebration of the diverse talents and personalities of TECS students. Like so many other wonderful things, the Variety Show paused during 2020 and 2021, giving us all the more reason to celebrate together in 2022. The theme for its return was âWhere the Wild Things Areâ and it was produced by the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) committee of Topanga Enrichment Programs (TEP). The show was hosted by father-son duo Aaron and Tycho Hendry, and comedian Stacie Burrows. With 24 acts and over 46 performing students, this event was just what students and parents needed to feel like a community again.
The Ramos Ramblers, 2nd grader Winslow and her father Ryan.
âDue to COVID concerns, we had to cancel the first two dates, but we never gave up! Five months ago, if you told me we would all be here together supporting our school and childrenâand masklessâI would not have believed you,â remarked VAPA Chair Stephanie Polansky. âThe world is a better place when we can see the smiles on our childrenâs faces. My dream is to make this a two-day show that we can open to the entire Topanga community to enjoy.
âThis is our Third Variety show, which weâve historically held in the school auditorium,â said show director Renee Welch. âIt will continue to be an annual tradition held here at the beautiful Theatricum! After two years of lockdown, I couldnât be more thrilled to be here in person.
Kindergartner Anwen Torjussen on violin.
Co-show director Danita Menchellâs daughter Darla, a TK class student, said her favorite part of the show was singing on stage and dancing with her friends. Silk Rope performer and fourth-grader Zoe Tashjian said, âIt felt so great to do the variety show for the first time in two years and be with all these people again. Aerial is my passion and Iâm so happy I got to share it with everyone!â
TECS Mom and volunteer Jen Biehn shared her sonâs experience, âThis is huge for our little dude, Dashiell. He felt so good, and he loved being part of a company of kids putting on a show.â
TECS Principal Kevin Kassebaum gave a big thank-you, âto the parent organizers and volunteers for helping to put together such a wonderful variety show for our kids! And congrats to our students. For some kids this was their first public performance and it was amazing to see the confidence-building that this opportunity provided.â
Autumn Busey, Zoe Tashjian, Riva Carter, and Sophia Bella Davis celebrating the TECS Variety Show.
Special thanks to Gina Shansey and the staff of Will Geerâs Theatricum Botanicum for welcoming this TECS event to their amazing venue. Thanks to the daring and talented students who gave it their all, and to the parents who volunteered both back stage and with concessions. Thanks to kids who worked concessions (Ella, Georgia, Indigo, Piper, Roma, Sailor, and Sophia Bella). Last but not least, thank you to the showâs enthusiastic audience whose support of this TEP event provides funding for enrichment programs at TECS including art, PE, science, technology, and classroom aides.
A warm welcome to Ms. Watkins. The TECS community extends a warm welcome to the new first-grade teacher, Ms. Rochelle Watkins, a native of Los Angeles. She joins TECS after teaching in Sweden for seven years where, in addition to her regular classes, she coached award-winning Wonder League Robotics teams and LEGO Robotics teams after school. We asked what type of student she was in elementary school. âWhen I was in school, I would often get in trouble for reading a book during class. I perfected the technique of walking through crowded halls with my nose in a book, stepping over backpacks and avoiding walls (mostly),â she commented. She also excelled in music and was an award-winning trumpet player (and was even on public television!).
Some of her advice to her students includes embracing mistakes. âWhen you fail, look at why you failed and try to figure out a way to a correct answer. This is how you learn even more and also become stronger.â She also emphasizes to her class that each of her students is just as valuable as a king, just as valuable as other classmates, and just as valuable as a homeless person. âTreat everyone with the same kindness and respect. Life is hard for everyone, including insects!â she added. Sheâs very excited to be teaching at TECS and to be closer to her family.
Buddy benches are back. The buddy bench is a tradition at TECS and thanks to the initiative of the new Student Council and with support from TEP, two new buddy benches have been added to the playgrounds for the lower grades (TK/K, first, and second grades).
âThe buddy bench is a special place for younger students to go during recess or lunch when they are feeling a bit lonely or wanting someone to chat with.â explained Farrah Whittenberg, third-grade class representative to the Student Council. Council representatives will rotate the task of engaging students who need a buddy.
Support Your Public School. Next up is the Spring Auction. TEP is seeking donations for the auction of gift certificates to local venues, a weekend at a vacation condo in Mammouth, a master baker to teach a fun baking class. Donations are tax deductible; please contact the TEP team at email@example.com