With school budgets tightening, the arts are getting set to be cut from many local districts. The Director of Education and Outreach for the Rochester Broadway Theatre League, Bob Sagan developed a program to try and keep the arts alive for some Rochester Area Students. "Beyond The Mask" is a program that completely immerses local classrooms in all aspects of the nationally touring production Phantom Of The Opera. Made possible through a national grant, 4th and 5th grade classrooms from the Walt Disney school in Gates-Chili, St. Joseph's in Penfield and Pinnacle school number 35 were chosen to participate. Since September, students read the original novel, watched the silent film, anniversary concert and chatted with cast and crew members. According to many local teachers, the results were astounding. Many teachers have said that in no other year have their students been so motivated, to grow, challenge and express themselves as they have this school year. Students kept a journal throughout the year, documenting each step on their Phantom journey. Technology made it easier for classrooms to connect with their Phantom counterparts, using Skype to chat with cast and crew members two or three times a weeks since September. This past week the cast and crew visited the local classrooms. The actors led the students in different songs and dances that they perform each night on stage. This past Wednesday, the students also had the opportunity to visit the Auditorium Theatre and see The Phantom Of The Opera after learning about it all year. This isn't the first program RBTL has put on. Local educational programs reach 3500 to 4000 students per year.
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