BLOOMFIELD, NJ – Later this month, students from Berkeley Elementary School will host two performances of ‘The Lion King.’  This is the second consecutive year the school has the honor of performing a Disney musical.

During the Bloomfield Board of Education meeting Tuesday night, the Berkeley students and staff were provided the spotlight and red-carpet treatment much to the delight of their parents, board members and administrators in attendance at the Bloomfield High School Library Media Center.

“We are committed to ensuring all of our programs and activities support the common goal of building the whole child,” said Dr. Natasha Baxter, Berkeley School Principal.

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Testimonials were provided to the board and the public by parents, students and Berkeley Musical Director Mrs. Montgomery about the advantages of the musical theatre program.

“Our program empowers students to get involved and stay involved,” said Montgomery.  “There are many advantages to having musical theatre in the schools, as it combines all the art forms and provides an amazing opportunity for students to perform on stage or work behind the scenes.  Beyond the joys of storytelling on stage, musical theatre fosters creativity, collaboration, communication, problem solving and empathy.”

Berkeley student testimonials included third grader Zakai who plays Rafiki, fourth grader Antonio who plays Pumba, and fifth grader Tahira who plays Simba’s mom, Sarabi.

The third, fourth and fifth grade cast members also performed one number from the upcoming play during the meeting.

“This was an extraordinary little glimpse of what I am sure we will thoroughly enjoy when you perform this play in the near future,” said Superintendent Sal Goncalves.  “Compliments to Dr. Baxter, the staff and the parents for your support.  We truly are a high-performing school district.”

‘The Lion King’ performance dates are set for Thursday, March 26 and Friday, March 27.

“I want to thank all of you – you all did a great job,” Board President Jill Fischman said while addressing the student cast.  “You are stars in every meaning of the word, and we can’t wait to see your full performance.”

In May 2018, Berkeley worked on a grant application from Disney Theatrical Group, in participation with NJPAC, to build a sustainable musical-theater program.  Berkeley was selected as a finalist.

After an onsite interview by NJPAC representatives with Dr. Baxter and staff members in the Fall of 2018, Berkeley was chosen as one of seven schools in the nation to receive the prestigious two-year grant.

In year one, Berkeley received free Disney performance rights, show-kit materials and two professional teaching artists.  This year, Berkeley received discounted performance rights and show-kit materials, and one full day of training from a teaching artist.