EL MONTE – Rio Hondo Elementary School fifth-grader Nicole Orozco said playing the sassy marionette Pinocchio in her school’s production of “Shrek Jr.” boosted her confidence in public speaking and allowed her to make new friends across several grade levels.

El Monte City School District’s musical theater showcase features 11 of its schools putting on performances of popular works such as “Hairspray,” “Mary Poppins” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The plays nurture a love of music and theater in students.

“I loved playing Pinocchio because he can sometimes be really happy, but when he’s sad he can be so pouty and I love being able to speak in his silly, high-pitched voice,” Orozco said. “I loved seeing people’s different reactions to my voice and I fooled some people into thinking that was how I normally sound.”

Special education teacher and co-director of “Shrek Jr.” Denita Knox said she enjoyed seeing the poise her students gained over three months of practice.

“This play really helped some of our students build their confidence,” Knox said. “Activities like the musical theater showcase help students come out of their comfort zone. They help them find their voice and give them a chance to try something they would never do, like singing and dancing.”

Knox said she was proud of her younger students for memorizing their lines with ease and her older students for showcasing leadership skills to maintain focus during practices.

“Congratulations to Rio Hondo Elementary and its students for putting on such an amazing play,” Superintendent Dr. Maribel Garcia said. “Our musical theater showcase is a great example of how our District builds student confidence while also boosting interest in the arts and creative expression.”

The District’s next performance will be “101 Dalmatians” at New Lexington on May 21.


EMCSD_SHREK1: Rio Hondo Elementary School seventh-grader Aiden Au (left) as captain of the guards faces off against seventh-grader Niko Lucy (right) as Shrek during their school’s performance of “Shrek Jr.”

EMCSD_SHREK2: Rio Hondo Elementary School sixth-grader Karina Alvarez and seventh-grader Niko Lucy share an ogre’s version of a s’more as Princess Fiona and Shrek during their school’s performance of “Shrek Jr.”