Last week at Marquez Elementary, the fifth graders performed a play called Hello Louisiana, which is about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It was written by Jeff Lantos, who is a fifth grade teacher at Marquez.
Lantos created the play with Bill Augustine, who wrote the music. Lantos’ wife, who is a professional script reader at Twentieth Century Fox, helped edit the play.
Lantos also has written two other history-teaching plays that the fifth grade performs every year. Miracle In Philadelphia, which is about the Constitutional Convention, and Water and Power, which is about the Industrial Revolution.
Lantos has been having his fifth graders perform these plays for 16 years. He was inspired to write the plays because it brings music into the classroom and it teaches history in a fun way.
“There were too many blank faces in history class,” Lantos said.
The fifth grade has performed these plays in many places over the years, including Broadway, the Odyssey Theatre, Actors Gang Theatre and other schools across the country.
Lantos loves watching his students perform the plays, but his favorite part is being surprised by a student’s enthusiasm and talent.
“When you sing it you don’t forget it,” he said. “Kids don’t even know how much they are learning because they are having so much fun.”