At Brawerman Elementary School, a high point of the year occurs on the day before winter break. The East and West Chanukah performances give our community a chance to see the love of learning and joyful Judaism that happens every day. The meaningful performances include public speaking, acts of kindness, instrumental music, singing, writing, and art.
At Brawerman East, the performance began with the Kindergarten class performing a Chanukah play that the school’s charter class created while in Kindergarten. (Each subsequent year, current kindergartners edit the play to make it their own.) Next, Grade 1 students narrated their How to Make Sufganiyot book. Grade 2 took the stage and described what kind of No-Present Present they gave to a member of their family. Grade 3 was up next and performed a synchronized Israeli dance before showing off their ukulele skills. For the first time, Grade 4 students hosted “The Great Chanukah Debate” to educate the audience about how rabbis of old decided on the order of candle lighting. Grades 5 and 6 shared physical representations of their Jewishness and described the significance of each item. The Chanukah Performance culminated in a Grades 4-6 music ensemble directed by Music Specialist Will Alvarado.
At Brawerman West, the Grade 6 students took center stage as leaders of the performance. Under the guidance of Music Specialist Melanie Silvernail, who uses rap and pop music as a way to teach form, lyricism, and flow, the students learn about storytelling through music. After breaking into groups to begin choosing popular songs that they might alter to tell the narrative of Chanukah, the students write their possible versions. Then the group narrows down the selection to a few songs. The Grade 6 students then work on keeping the syllables and rhyming structure intact while simultaneously cutting the song to meet time limitations. Finally, they employ GarageBand and iMovie to create karaoke videos to teach children in the younger grades who ultimately will perform the songs.
Whether a class sings a traditional Chanukah song or one of the parodies created by the Grade 6 class, the younger students perform masterfully. This year the Grade 5 class also shared the spotlight and, for the first time, performed in an orchestra (composed of five different instruments).
At East and West, the programs highlighted the student-led work that happens on both campuses. Additionally, each featured the generosity, thoughtfulness, poise, and leadership capabilities of our incredible students. At Chanukah, we are taught to light the candles with increasing brightness. Throughout the year at Brawerman, our students are our light—and they continue to shine brighter as the year progresses.