One local Christian school finds a new way to celebrate Christmas every year.
This year, Ardmore Christian School’s original play, Begin-Agains, tells the story of a grandfather and granddaughter duo who own a secondhand toy store. Principal Manette Pinson, who directs the shows each year, said they’ve performed them for the last 10 years.
“All of our teachers have to double as technicians, choir directors,” Pinson said. “They have to do choreography and everything.”
The show is the school’s own version of a Christmas pageant, incorporating a Nativity scene in a unique way. Toys in the store come to life during vignettes where Christina, played by Bernice Silvas, tries to figure out what’s bothering them and fix it. Christina, who is deaf and can’t speak, communicates with other characters through sign language.
“Everyone has done a ’toys come to life’ kind of story,” Pinson said. “I went off of that and came up with dolls that needed to be fixed. There’s something wrong with them, one way or another, and I hope that will relate to all of us.”
The cast includes a Stretch Armstrong doll, a baby doll, Lancelot and gingerbread men. Past plays have been set at an arts and crafts show, a farm, in a retirement home and on the set of a Lawrence Welk-style variety show.
“The ones I read seemed to be cookie-cutter, and I thought,  ‘We can do more,’” Pinson said. “We can expand on the Nativity story in a more interesting way.”
With a daytime performance next Wednesday at 10 a.m. and a night performance at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Pinson said the 10 a.m. showing is significantly less crowded. The play runs for about an hour.
“It’s something we do well,” Pinson said. “Some schools are known for sports, but this is the area where we want to shine. Once I get the story, I like to give it to the kids and let them tell it.”
First and second graders perform in the choir, while kindergarteners perform as gingerbread men.
Silvas, who plays the lead, said her friend Cora taught her some beginner’s sign language, which helped her learn more for the part.
“I knew a few things, but not very many,” Silvas said, demonstrating the signs for the phrase “Nice to meet you.”
Fifth and sixth grade teacher Kaylie Parker helps stage manage during the show. She helps run the projector during a shadow box portion of the performance near the end of the show.
“It was already built, I don’t know why they had it,” she said, laughing. “[Chantel] Waterson came up with their dances for the most part. It’s my first year teaching, so I can’t wait for people to see my kids.”
Second grade teacher Vicki Hartman doubles as choir director. She said the show’s overall message makes it particularly special to her.
“What I like about the plays is how the Lord uses us as a tool,” Hartman said. “My favorite part is ‘Take me back Again,’ and “Glorious,’ because each one of the [students] is a part, and we become God’s symphony.”