Public School 190 Intrigues Students and Staff With “The Lion Queen” Play
Everyone knows that school or even working at an academic institution can be strenuous at times due to lesson plans, teaching students eight hours a day, five days a week, or preparing students for the standardized tests in reading, science, and math. However, Public School 190, located in East New York, Brooklyn came up with an idea that would allow their students to be creative and use their imagination outside of the classroom.
Recently, fifth grade teacher, Jessica Chong was a screenwriter and producer for the play The Lion Queen. The content of the play was based on the Disney classic, The Lion King and the sequels. Physical education teacher Valery Aifuobhokan told Chong that they should work on The Lion King and she said, “Okay, we’ll just change it to The Lion Queen.” However, for this specific play, she wanted to re-do an old play but she incorporated singing and dancing in the production.
“I changed the name because a lot of schools already used The Lion King and so I decided to put a spin to it by doing something different. And then when I started doing research, I realized there was a The Lion King 2 so the story line fits,” says Chong. “I can use some of the content from the movie but I needed to change the plot; in The Lion King 2, they get married and I just kept it as a friendship because they are in elementary school.”
Educators Sharon Samuels and Blythe Fahy also worked with Chong and Aifuobhokan, who is also a part of P.S 190’s Saturday performing arts program. Once everyone decided on the concept for The Lion Queen play, they were assigned to a specific task based on their skills and expertise.
“Sharon was working with the kids musically with the steel drums and pans, Mrs. Aifuobhokan will work on the dance routines, and surprisingly, we didn’t know Ms. Fahy has a background in chorus so she was in charge of that. I was working with the actors and actress which was the third, fourth, and fifth grade students but I also used two first graders for the play,” says Chong.
Chong says she was so humbled by people’s positive remarks about the play and she wants The Lion Queen play to receive more exposure in the near future. She will also work on another play for next year and encourage P.S 190’s staff and principal Stephaun Hill to start a performing arts school so students will have an opportunity to partake in more projects in the arts.
“We have so much talent at P.S 190; even with the paraprofessionals, Ms. Carrion, Ms. Henry and Ms. Monel working on the sets and coming up with so many great ideas for the play,” says Chong. “It was like ‘we can do this and that for the tail’; I mean I didn’t have the time to think about that, but everybody has their lane and was good at what they were supposed to be doing at the time.”