GREAT is in our second year of bringing our Residency Program to every elementary school in St. Cloud School District 742. Following the show-in-a-week model, our teaching artists work with students Monday-Thursday leading theatre exercises, auditions, and rehearsals. During the school day on Friday, students perform their show on-site for their classmates and for their families and community. This program not only meets students where they are to provide the opportunity to be a part of a collaborative production, but allows every elementary student the opportunity to see live theatre. Thanks to generous donor support, last year over 400 fifth graders had the opportunity to be part of the production and another 1700+ elementary students of all grades watched them perform.

Laura Steabnar, Director of Education – Elementary at District 742 was so kind to share an email with us recently that one of the 5th grade teachers at Lincoln Elementary shared with her principal about her experience with GREAT’s Residency Program:

WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW!!!!  I wish I had recorded it … BOTH _____ and ______ plus all the kids but those two … I could have bawled!!! It was incredible…. each student came in to audition with two GREAT Theatre staff into my classroom. The rest of the class was waiting their turn.

_____ came in USED her voice to read the lines and sang the couple of lines. She needed some prompting and support but SHE DID IT!!! She was allll SMILES!!!

Then _____ came in and I thought there was no way … but I wanted to give him the chance… wow proved me wrong!!! He needed a little support walking in but then HE READ ALL THE WORDS WITH HIS VOICE!!!!!! He also sang a few words and then looked at me and shook his head. But he tried and it was AMAZING!!!

After all this time WHY do I ever EVER doubt how amazing these kids are!!! They go so far outside their comfort zone and show such bravery and courage!!!

If nothing else it was an amazing opportunity for each student to SHINE as everyone tried out for the parts!!!! 🤗🤩🎉❤️

Please note, the student’s names have been removed for privacy. 

Laura also added:

The power of theater is real. It shouldn’t surprise me that our students are responding in the way that they are, but the magic of theater always instills wonder in me! Thank you for all you are doing to bring this experience to our 742 students!

It’s through these opportunities that so many youth are introduced to theatre. Studies have shown multiple theatre experiences are needed by age 10 to have the biggest impact on youth. These experiences build life skills and foster personal growth that will have a lasting impact for years to come – whether they pursue a career in the arts or any other profession. Access to theatre arts opportunities today are critical to shaping our community’s future. Thank you District 742 to seeing the value the arts play in every student’s education and partnering with GREAT to help build a pathway to life-long impact.  


This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.