Tustumena Elementary School was crawling with bugs this week, but school officials didn't call an exterminator.
Instead, parents were summoned to the school to check out the creepy crawlies. After all, they were just so darn cute.
As one might guess, the hordes of insects actually were elaborately costumed boys and girls, decked out in sunglasses and self-made antennaes as well as some ultra-creative parent-made regalia for the primary wing's spring concert, "Bugz."
Students in kindergarten through third grade the primary wing at the K-6 school presented the song and dance performance Tuesday afternoon.
The musical, written by John Jacobson and John Higgins and distributed by the Hal Leonard Corp., follows a group of insects preparing to attend a picnic and struggling with the meddlesome stinkbug, who wants to attend as well.
The show starts with the hoedown-style "Goin' on a Picnic" song and dance. After getting excited about the event, however, some of the bugs realize they might not be welcome at the human picnic.
Stinkbug Jonas Perletti and Nice Bug, Ingrid Whitaker, present their lines during the rehearsal.
Photo by Jenni Dillon
After all, one student says, "I almost got squashed last time."
Another student, however, says all the bugs have to do is behave themselves to avoid being unwelcome.
The ladybugs portrayed by a group of female students dressed in red shirts with black dots teach the other bugs about manners in "Be a Lady."
But even with the brush-up on etiquette, the bugs aren't quite ready to go. There's still the problem of the pesky stinkbug, who many in the group are unwilling to eat with, and a fear of the dark.
The song "Firefly," performed in an almost-dark gym and featuring a group of students holding flashlights, celebrates the comfort and symbolism of even the smallest lights in the world.
Then, the army ants a group of boys dressed in camoflague are called out to organize the troupe's battle plan. The ants sing and dance in "March of the Army Ants," before passing out and falling to the floor when the stinkbug played by Jonas Perletti again passes by.
The stinkbug's feelings are hurt, and he starts to cry, only to be comforted by Nice Bug, Ingrid Whitaker. The catepillars-turning-to-butterflies take the stage with "Things Change," encouraging the stinkbug to be patient and hopeful for the future.
Finally, the praying mantis, Kaillee Skjold, thinks and prays on the matter and comes up with a solution: If the bugs had flowers on their lapels, they wouldn't be bothered by the stinkbug's aroma. Each student takes out a homemade paper flower and, problem solved, the insects head to the feast, singing "Goin' on a Picnic" once again.
Elizabeth DeVolld, director and teacher, said the program was written specifically for the young kids' voices. Plus, she said, it seemed appropriate this year.
"With the early spring, I've seen a few bugs," she said.
It also was a lot of fun to see how far parents went with costumes, she said.
While some students relied on the simple sunglasses and pipecleaner antennaes to portray their characters, others were completely decked out. There were, of course, the army ants in full military garb.
Then there was the dragonfly with cardboard wings covered in aluminum foil or the praying mantis in a graduation robe. There also was a catepillar in a life-like fuzzy green suit and a butterfly with brightly painted cardboard wings.
"The costumes were up to creative parents, and there are some really creative parents out there," DeVolld said.
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