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Puppets teach kids to SOAR at Bethlehem Elementary

Students from the first puppet show assembly posed with Duane Coute of Littleton Chevrolet Buick GMC, back row on the right, Monday afternoon at Bethlehem Elementary School. Funds from the Meadow Street car dealership helped BES bring a team from Puppets in Education, based in Vermont, to teach lessons related to the school's SOAR program (Safety, Ownership, Achievement, Respect). (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
October 05, 2016
BETHLEHEM — Puppets with important messages performed for the students at Bethlehem Elementary School on Monday afternoon. The two assemblies focused on messages related to the Safety, Ownership, Achievement, and Respect (SOAR) philosophy that guides the school.

Funds from Littleton Chevy Buick GMC helped bring the team from Puppets in Education to BES. The Vermont-based organization has visited other schools in the region through the support of the car dealership, based on Meadow Street in Littleton.

"It's incredible," Sarah Vogelsang of Puppets in Education said of the Littleton Chevy's support for the mission of teaching kids through puppetry.

BES kids were informed how SOAR serves an important role in the school's culture. The students learned about treating others well and focusing on big goals by seeing skits and songs from the puppets named Jennifer, Mel, and Nam.

Students were informed that the Puppets in Education team would perform their show using the bunraku style of puppetry, which began in Japan during the 17th Century.

The first skit included a conversation between Jennifer and Mel. Jennifer said the kids should believe that someone who has difficulty learning some subjects can be seen as having a difficulty, not a disability.

"It's so hard to be different from other kids," Mel acknowledged.

However, the puppet continued, "We all need to be supportive of each other."

With support from friends, students can assist someone in one subject, then the helped student could return the favor in another area, Mel and Jennifer noted during their conversation.

"Everybody learns differently," Jennifer added.

In the second skit, Mel assisted Nam, a boy puppet with a difficult name to pronounce. He was sad because some other kids teased him because of his name.

Originally, Nam decided that he wanted to change his name to avoid being teased. However, Mel said, "You kind of look like Nam to me."

Again working in a SOAR component, Mel added that students must "take ownership of what we say to each other."

The puppet duo then discussed the wide range of cultural differences among students. "We all have things that make us the same, and we all have things that make us different," Mel said.

"It's great to share with each other," Mel continued.

After the skits, students were able to ask questions of the puppets. There was also discussion about the varying cultural influences at BES, and within students' families.

The SOAR message is also communicated with artwork and messages in BES hallways. Ownership is "helping my friends," one student drawing shows. Another considers respect as "not talking when the teacher is talking."

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