Cordova Chronicles: American Voices: A salute to remember

Musical Magician Chelsea Corrao spearheads another great performance

Third-grade Rosie the Riveter twins Isabella and Victoria Nothstine flex their muscles and smiles following the program’s conclusion. Photo by Nicole Nothstine/For The Cordova Times
Third-grade Rosie the Riveter twins Isabella and Victoria Nothstine flex their muscles and smiles following the program’s conclusion. Photo by Nicole Nothstine/For The Cordova Times

Cordova’s Musical Magician is at it again. We have been delighted by the Christmas programs and many other performances Chelsea Corrao has spearheaded throughout our schools since her arrival here two years ago, but the dynamic teacher and her students topped it all with “American Voices: Celebrating America from Armistice to the Moon.”

The salute to veterans, featuring Mt. Eccles students grades kindergarten through fourth, was presented before a packed house in the Simpler Gym on Nov. 14, replete with costumes, songs and dance; as well as the continued amazing ability of Corrao to guide lively youngsters through an hour of entertainment without saying a single word.

A delightful program cover designed by third grader Adelaide Botz says it all about the Mt. Eccles Elementary presentation of “American Voices” on Nov. 14. Photo by Dick Shellhorn/The Cordova Times
A delightful program cover designed by third grader Adelaide Botz says it all about the Mt. Eccles Elementary presentation of “American Voices” on Nov. 14. Photo by Dick Shellhorn/The Cordova Times

Fourth graders dressed as famous Americans narrated the trip through history, with each grade-level class, dressed in era-style apparel, taking turns singing and dancing to classics of particular time periods. Is there anything more fun than watching happy young children in action?

It turns out Mrs. Corrao’s name is pronounced “Core-ee-oh,” rhyming with the cookie “Oreo.” It also rhymes with the first part of choreography, of which she does an amazing job. We are so enchanted with watching all these smiling performers enjoying every moment of their time on stage that we overlook her kneeling in front, leading them through all the movements.

Also perhaps unnoticed during one of the routines was our Musical Magician moving out to dance with a student whose partner was evidently missing. They made a fine couple; and the young lad wasn’t the least bit intimidated to be dancing with his teacher, which speaks much of their trust and affection for her.

Clearly, some of the performers spent extra time practicing for the program. One had to be 1st-grader Brody Donaldson, dressed in tight jeans, a white T-shirt, slicked-back hair, and dark shades, who wowed the crowd with his Rock and Roll moves. Brody’s tutor was his great grandmother, Helen Donaldson Makarka, CHS Class of ’57.

“That was our era, you know,” she said. “But he wore me out wanting to dance so much.”

Twenty-one fourth graders, each portraying a famous American, provided voices celebrating our history from Armistice to the Moon. Photo by Susan Harding/For The Cordova Times
Twenty-one fourth graders, each portraying a famous American, provided voices celebrating our history from Armistice to the Moon. Photo by Susan Harding/For The Cordova Times

Armistice Day commemorates the signing of a treaty to end hostilities on the Western Front between Germany and the Allies in World War I. The agreement took place on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. The date was declared a national holiday in many counties, and Nov. 11 is now recognized as Veteran’s Day in the United States.

It occurred to me while watching this heart-warming performance that the 100th anniversary of that 1918 agreement is next year; and sadly, the periods of armistice have been few and far between for this country since it was signed.

Mt. Eccles lst graders demonstrate their interpretation of “The Twist” as part of Scene 5: We’re on a Rock and Roll. (Gayle Belgrade photo)

Many of us have served, and the veterans present were asked to stand at the end of the performance to receive a round of applause.

It was a much appreciated gesture; yet nothing made that service seem more worthwhile than watching Mrs. Corrao and her Mt. Eccles students cheerfully and proudly perform “American Voices.”

As music teacher Chelsea Corrao and rapt kindergartners look on, Phoebe Tschappat (Eleanor Rooosevelt) and John Anderson (Charles Lindberg) read a moving tribute to this country’s veterans near the end of the program. Photo by Susan Harding/For The Cordova Times
As music teacher Chelsea Corrao and rapt kindergartners look on, Phoebe Tschappat (Eleanor Rooosevelt) and John Anderson (Charles Lindberg) read a moving tribute to this country’s veterans near the end of the program. Photo by Susan Harding/For The Cordova Times

SHARE
Previous articleRemembering Sully Sullivan
Next articleWhen Jerry Brown came to Nome
Dick Shellhorn, author, reporter, ref and grandpa, can be reached at shorn@gci.net. Shellhorn was born and raised in Cordova, Alaska, and has lived there his entire life. He has been writing sports stories for the Cordova Times for over 40 years. In his Cordova Chronicles features, he writes about the history and characters of this Alaska town. Alaska Press Club awarded Shellhorn first place for Best Humor column in 2016.