Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
The stage in Coppell High School’s auditorium was bare except for a few risers and blocks, and the better part of the auditorium was filled with the happy, chatty families of the students who were about the perform that evening..
High school performances, especially weekday ones, always have a certain bittersweet quality about them – if it is not your kid up there, or your friend’s kid, or your friend, why care. But high school always has a raw excitement with enough skill that is does not matter who you are watching – it is fun regardless.
But that was not the primary focus of the Coppell ISD Showcase event. It is meant to show off Coppell ISD to the rest of Texas.
Dr. Jeff Turner, the Superintendant of Schools for Coppell ISD, made it clear that this showcase is meant to show the rest of Texas everything Coppell has to offer.
“This year, I am serving as the president of the Texas Association of School Administrators which is an organization of about 3,000 school superintendants and assistant superintendants across the state of Texas,” he said. “We have our annual convention in September – total will be about five to six thousand people. The first part of that is a celebration of my district, so I invited this group to come and showcase the great things going on in Coppell. That show will go on Saturday the 28th of September.”
The thirty minute performance was comprised of short scenes that highlighted the cutting edge aspects of education in Coppell.
The performance began with a fifties style vignette about a young boy who is about to start school for the first time. As he falls asleep, he is transported to 21st Century Coppell, in an Alice and Wonderland twist, where he is greeted by a bald man who led him around the new Coppell with a fatherly concern somewhere between Virgil and the Caterpillar.
The child’s trip to “future” Coppell introduced itself with a dance number in which students sang, “We’ve got the Coppell beat.”
Another scene was comprised of a video about all the imaginative learning opportunities in Coppell from hands-on history lessons with Civil War weapons to broadcast journalism to conservation and a lot of shots of cute animals. Although the number had a backing track, the lyrics were all sung (and rapped) by students onstage.
“Coppell ISD, the sky is the limit!”
The last bit of spectacle was a closing video where the boy wakes up in his bed – the scene then transitioning from the screen to the stage in a display of cinematic flair worthy of the Terminator ride at Universal Studios, replete with back flips and synchronized break dancing choreographed to the band’s percussion section.
As the performance ended, the students’ closing challenge echoed around the hall, “You can try to stop the beat, but you just know it can’t be.”
The president of the Coppell ISD Board of Trustees, Anthony Hill, was very proud of the monumental amount of work the students and the teachers have put into the project.
“They’ve been practicing all summer,” Hill said. “It’s a major endeavor because you have to coordinate all the kids; you’ve got to coordinate the music, you have to choreograph everything and get it working in a short period of time.”
Lisa Tabor, the lead theater teacher at Coppell High School, directed the showcase.
“I was approached in February about putting it together, and I went home and prayed about it and said, ‘God, what in the heck should I do.’ And sat down and started listening to some different Glee songs because I knew that was something Dr. Turner was interested in,” Tabor said.
“The biggest challenge is trying to put this together while you have your other shows going on and you are teaching class,” she continued. “We had about three other shows going on at the same time, but the blessing has been to see the talented kids up there and see all the arts come together.”
Tabor said that all levels of the school system took strongly to the process.
“The kids responded really, really well to it. We actually went over and auditioned at the elementary and middle school and then here at the high school,” Tabor said. “They gave up their summer to do the rehearsals. The kids from KCBY, our broadcast journalism kids, put together all the video tape but they were very glad to do it, and they’ve been so proud of what they’ve created.
“We were definitely going for futuristic, because we want to show that Coppell is on the cutting edge of education. So we definitely wanted to stress that we’re the ones to be looking at as far as education and other things we do, and the things our kids do here.”