Several sixth grade students from Ardmore Middle School were treated to an evening at the opera courtesy of teacher Mary “The Fox” Johnson on Tuesday evening. The students gathered at The Goddard Center for dinner and then watched a live streamed performance of “Porgy and Bess” from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
Johnson said she had selected these students to be a part of a special black history program that she has been organizing in the community for over 25 years. After their performance in February, Johnson decided to broaden the children’s range by exposing them to new things.
“This group of students, out of all the kids I’ve worked with, have been some of the most uplifting,” Johnson said. “They’ve been more curious, and they wanted to learn more.”
To foster their curiosity, Johnson herself paid for all the students to attend.
“I want them to experience things they’ve never done before, never seen before,” Johnson said. “I want them to go places I’ve never been and be able to travel. To go other places and do things to showcase their talent — not only in town but in other cities and communities outside of Ardmore.”
Johnson said this group of students has a wide range of talents — from music, to visual art and dance. For their next performance, she wants to showcase their range. Not only will the students be performing two dances choreographed by the students themselves, they’ll also be performing some comedic poems. The comedic poems will contrast with the more serious material they presented in February.
“I gave them some poems to learn that were more fun,” Johnson said. “I’m training them to do some more comic performances so they’ll be able to see the differences between the two different presentations they have made or are going to make.”
In addition to the work getting ready for the next performance, they are also busy picking out a name for themselves. Some of the ideas they have been kicking around include: “The Mini Foxes,” “Miss Johnson’s Jewels” and “Fox’s Tigerettes.”
“I’ve found a diamond in the rough with these kids,” Johnson said. “It’s amazing the things that you can learn from them and the things you can teach them to mold them to another level where they can see where they are now but they can also see the future.”