BENNINGTON -- Students from the Molly Stark School performed "The Wizard of Oz" on Wednesday and Thursday, in front of their parents, peers, and members of the community.

Music teacher Janie Hart and art teacher Martha Phelps were the directors of the production, which was performed at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on each day. The students who performed in the musical, which was funded by the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union's Mosaic program, were in fourth and fifth grade.

The students perform a different musical every year, said Hart, who said one of their recent productions, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, had been a big hit. "This isn't just a play," said Phelps, who helped the children design and paint the settings, "This is our playground.

Students at Molly Stark School in Bennington headed towards Oz on Thursday afternoon, during their performance of “The Wizard of Oz.” From left
Students at Molly Stark School in Bennington headed towards Oz on Thursday afternoon, during their performance of “The Wizard of Oz.” From left to right, John Cuccuini, Carson Gordon, Alexis Coderre, and Abby Farnum. (Holly Pelczynski/Bennington Banner/photos.benningtonbanner.com)
It's so much fun for the students."

The students practiced one night a week after school for the past 10 weeks, then four nights a week for the past two weeks, to make sure the play was a success.

In order to make sure that as many students a possible got to experience a lead role, the cast of the four primary characters, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the cowardly Lion, changed at the intermission. At the 1:30 show on Thursday, for the first half of the play, Dorothy was played by fifth-grader Alexis Coderre, the Scarecrow was played by fifth-grader Carson Gordon, the Tinman was played by fifth-grader John Cuccuini, and the Lion was played by fourth-grader Abby Farnum. For the second half of the play, Dorothy was played by fourth-grader Logan Lachance, the Scarecrow was played by fourth-grader Sophia Moxley, the Tinman was played by fifth-grader Tristen Levick, and the Lion was played by fifth-grader Madison Tift.

Mosaic is a federal and locally funded program, currently operating at Molly Stark, Bennington Elementary, Pownal Elementary, and Mount Anthony Union Middle School, that attempts to, "enhance student academic achievement and to foster lifelong interests in the arts, recreation, and the community," by offering, "high-quality out of school learning activities," according to an SVSU-produced brochure. The dozens of programs funded by Mosaic are open to all students in the four participating schools.

"When we put together these plays, it becomes a community thing, it brings everyone together," said Hart. Several parents, local businesses, and community members donated their time and resources to help make the play a reality, and Hart and Phelps made sure to thank them all after the performance, especially co-directors Lauren Charnow, Tracy Lochner, and Natalia Kline.

The students sang along to accompanying pre-recorded music, with musical sound effects provided by fifth-grader Dakota Sweet.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB