SKpades -- 04/07/02

The junior class at our high school puts on an annual theatrical production called SKpades -- the SK is for South Kingstown -- which, naturally, becomes "escapades" when spoken. This has been a tradition for many years (locals speak of it as if it goes back into the dim mists of prehistory) and (besides serving as a team-building experience for next year's graduating class and an opportunity to poke fun at teachers, administrators and the other classes) it provides funding to underwrite various senior year activities.

The juniors write, stage, produce, direct, perform, sell tickets, etc. -- this is an all-junior production. It is a collection of comedy skits and musical numbers, with some kind of loose theme that vaguely ties some of the various skits together. When my daughter's class (2000) put on their SKpades in the spring of 1999 the theme somehow involved Batman and Robin coming to South Kingstown High School in search of the Joker, CatWoman, etc. who had escaped from prison and were attempting to hide in the school. This year's unifying theme was "Back to the Future" -- the show opened with Marty and Doc in 1985 (the year most of the current juniors were born) traveling into the future to the year 2003, where they discovered... oh, never mind, it gets just too complex and too silly to explain... let's just summarize by saying they had to go back one year to stop the villains... But in the meanwhile, we were given a number of glimpses at school life...
  • A Health class where the teacher is lecturing on abstinence -- when a student points out that the teacher is pregnant with her fourth child, she responds by reciting from a list of academic standards that will appear on state assessment tests. The teacher accidentally knocks over a bottle of water and, thinking that her water just broke, cries out "Paid maternity leave! Yippee! I'm out of here!"
  • Faculty Jeopardy -- a variation on the tv game show where the three contestants are a physics teacher, a coach and the school principal. The physics teacher has $85,000, the principal is at zero, and the coach is at negative $30,000 because he keeps shouting additional wrong answers to the same questions.
  • A study hall were we hear voice-overs with the inner thoughts of the students... The morning announcements (with a spoof of the principal's favorite cliches) and the pledge to the flag is followed by a pledge to the junior class
  • An ongoing series of slow-motion Matrix-style kung-fu combat between students (no hall pass, late for class, smoking in parking lot, etc.) and administrators that always end with the administrators dragging the unconscious student from the stage ("One down, one thousand two hundred ninety-nine to go!")
Well, you get the idea... this is not Shakespeare...

But it was lively, amusing, energetic... and also featured some good musical talent. A female string trio provided well-played chamber music before the start and during intermission, there were some very good singing voices during various musical numbers, and some very acrobatic break dancing. As usual, the freshman, sophomore and senior classes were satirical targets... and, naturally, assorted administrators, teachers, cafeteria workers and office staff.

These productions usually also poke fun at Chariho High School (Chariho is a very rural three town combined district for the towns of Charlestown, Richmond and Hopkington)... In the class of 2000's production, three bib-overall wearing hayseeds representing visiting Chariho students were expressing amazement at indoor bathrooms. The class of 2003 was a bit kinder to their neighbors...one of the musical numbers early in the show had been a love song "Grow Old With Me"... later on a student confessed that he had always thought of people in Chariho as being "potato diggers" but a drive through there showed him that they didn't grow potatoes, they grew sod! In fact, there is a large turf farm right across the road from Chariho High School. (Actually, South County has many turf farms and I would not at all be surprised if someone were to quote a statistic to show that sod was the number one agricultural product.) A video projection on a large screen showed Chariho high school followed by a series of shots of turf farms with a young couple skipping hand-in-hand across the grassy fields, stopping to kiss the and caress the turf... while the singer performed "Grow Sod With Me."

At the end, the bad guys were foiled and humanity saved... the villains turned out to be a former vice principal (who left last year) and the (very unpopular) woman who had been principal during the class of 2003's freshman year... Doc and Marty went back to 1985... and the stage filled with more than a hundred students to sing "With a Little Help from My Friends."

Sean did the sound for the show... rehersals had been going on for a couple of weeks and every night this past week he was transporting incredible amounts of electronic equipment to the high school and back, including his computer and monitor, cables, mixer panel, power strips, etc. Performances were Friday and Saturday night. Nancy and I went to the Friday night performance and had a very good time. (Saturday one of Nancy's sisters and her boyfriend were in town so we went with them and Nancy's mom to Champlin's sea food restaurant for dinner.)

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