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Students are half way there

January 14, 2005

Cindy Shopoff

The holidays are over, the decorations put away, the suitcases

unpacked from various trips and now we are to January. We are rapidly

approaching the half-way mark of the school year.

January, finals will take place during the last week of the month.

They will be the culmination of all the work done before the holidays

that needs to be refined, reviewed, remembered and taken to account.

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This is the time to assess how we are doing. How appropriate for

the first semester to end in the month that many adults also use as a

benchmark for life and learning. The school and its volunteers would

certainly pass on all the requirements made of them.

The spirit of giving has certainly permeated the school atmosphere

with Thurston students busy with wonderful projects. Each advisement

class filled a box with food (some classes completed several, thank

you Ms. Hill-Lindsay and Ms. Stephanian!) for needy families and the

leadership/ASB class sponsored our annual "giving tree" with hundreds

of presents donated to the children of Orangewood. The PALs gave a

delightful party at the La Playa Center in conjunction with the "Even

Start" preschool program, and every child received a present. They

are now busy collecting money for the Tsunami victims to donate to

the Red Cross and UNICEF programs.

The performing arts, choral and band programs are certainly busy.

Last year's Junior Park Avenue Player production of "Guys and

Dolls" provided amazing entertainment for our community. The sell-out

crowds surprised Mark Dressler, director of the drama programs at

Thurston and Laguna Beach High School.

"That show was so successful that we've decided to end this year's

first semester with another musical comedy, 'Grease'," Dressler

recently explained, referring to the popular rock musical set in the

1950s.

"This year we have so many boys and girls anxious for an

opportunity to perform in a musical production that we are going to

present two separate productions, involving over 60 students."

Because "Guys and Dolls" played to sell-out crowds with standing

room only, Dressler has decided to run "Grease" for twice as many

performances, two consecutive weekends. Helping Dressler with the

production process are Ellen Prince, a very accomplished

choreographer, and Jimmy Van, a popular local musical director.

"I'm really glad that we are able to afford this great experience

to so many Thurston kids," Dressler said. "It's a great thing, that

our kids in Laguna have not only an appreciation for live theater,

but a desire and opportunity to be part of a big show like 'Grease.'"

The casts will be made up of Dressler's third and fourth period

classes. The show will run Jan. 21, 22, 28 and 29 with matinee and

evening performances on Jan. 22 and 29.

The sixth-grade Oral History luncheon will be held Feb. 9, 10 and

11 a wonderful Thurston tradition that many of you have participated

in with your families.

So if I get the chance to assign a grade I think I'll give

Thurston an "A" for hard-working students, committed volunteers and

staff. And as I pull my day timer out to mark off the first half of

the school year I think I'll say we are on target for having a

successful year.

Cindy Shopoff is president of the Thurston Middle PTA.

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