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Every SPS fourth-grader attends Little House on the Prairie: The Musical at Landers Theatre

Little House on the Prairie Musical stage photo

Gray Elementary School fourth-grader Layla Morton was so excited for the show to begin at Landers Theatre. She was ready for the Springfield Little Theatre production of "Little House on the Prairie: The Musical."

She was ready, costume and all.

"This is her first production ever," said Shayla Morton, Layla's mother. "She's gained so much independence and has learned so much, from time management to knowing to bring her water bottle with her and the consequences of when she's not quite on it. Now, I drop her off at the door before a show. It's her job to be ready to go on."

Layla's classmates watched her become Martha Brewster on stage in a special performance of the musical on Tuesday, Oct. 29. These Gray fourth-graders were joined by hundreds of other students. Every SPS fourth-grader will attend a condensed performance of the musical as a fine arts experience, made possible by SPS' work with Any Given Child, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and many community arts partners.

Buses at Landers Theatre

"Our districtwide fine arts experiences help to ensure that all K-8 students have equitable access to fine arts opportunities in our community," said Breana Kavanaugh, coordinator of fine arts and world language. "These experiences help enhance our students' educational experiences as we work toward providing them with a well-rounded education."

Students watch most of Act 1 of "The Little House on the Prairie" and the show's final number. But getting nearly 2,000 fourth-graders from school to downtown for an hour-long performance is a logistical challenge. In total, more than 50 bus drivers will provide transportation to and from downtown, with a number of transportation support staff coordinator the logistics of their transportation. Buses then are parked in a nearby Missouri State University parking lot, thanks to a partnership with MSU.

"We're always proud to be a part of this experience for our students," said Jonathan Shelden, director of transportation. "It's one of the best days of the year."