PUBLISHED: 12:04 PM on Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Students learn Tlingit language through play

  Photo by Amanda Gragert Students at Auke Bay School perform a song from "Frog Woman," which shows at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, and Thursday, April 20 at the school gym.
A volcano, Native costumes and special effects are what Auke Bay School students taking on in their play "Frog Woman."

The production is performed by fifth- and fourth-graders and will show at the school at 6:30 p.m. April 19-20 in the gym for $5 a person.

Librarian and music teacher Ann Boochever said she has directed a fifth grade play each spring for the past 10 years. She said each production usually has an ethnic theme to represent students in the school. Indian studies teacher Victoria Johnson approached Boochever about performing a Tlingit show. Boochever received permission from Kiks.adi Tlingit elders Paul Jackson and Ethel Lund and the Sealaska Heritage Institute, and she wrote a play for the students from a Tlingit legend of the frog woman.

"We've never had one that's been so complicated," Boochever said. "The students love it. It's a wonderful experience for them."

The moral lesson in the story is to respect elders and all living things. The plot is about a village being destroyed after a group of boys kill a frog and disrespect property. Boochever said she has told the story to each grade at Auke Bay.

"I think they really like that story because it's extreme," Boochever said.

Organizing about 70 elementary students for the show has been challenging, Boochever said.

"They all enjoy it immensely but it's hard for them to sit still and wait their turn. It's challenging but it's also very rewarding," she said. "They feel proud of themselves and it's something they'll never forget."

Students have learned Tlingit songs and language, which they said was difficult but enjoyable.

"It's important to know. It's a lot easier the more you say it and learn," said fifth-grader Jackson Pavitt. "I look forward to coming to practice every day."

Fifth-grader Anna Thompson said learning Tlingit has been hard, but she enjoys the production.

"I like rehearsals and memorizing lines and practicing on stage," Thompson said. "I like being in character."