The STAGES Project, a nonprofit that teaches theater arts to at-risk students in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, is putting on a production Wednesday morning of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.
More than 60 fifth-graders from John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica will participate in the show Wednesday night at the Electric Lodge in Venice. Garry Marshall, the creator of TV's "Happy Days" and "The Odd Couple" and director of numerous Hollywood films including Overboard, Pretty Woman, Beaches and The Princess Diaries will attend and speak at Wednesday's show.
The STAGES Project is a volunteer-run organization that provides a free, four-week intensive theater arts program for at-risk students that features a public performance.
The project was founded in 2009 by Judy Ho, a psychology professor at Pepperdine University, who also is the principal investigator for its research and evaluation portion. The program targets fifth-graders who have been identified as at-risk by school personnel due to failing scores on standardized tests, failing subject grades, poor citizenship scores or behavioral problems at school.
A majority of the program's students have been from Title I schools that receive free or reduced lunch as part of the federal program to aid schools with a high percentage of low-income families. The performance Wednesday will be the fourth production as part of the project.
The theater arts training is part of the "Jump Start to Success" program to prepare students for challenges expected in the jump from elementary to middle school. Study results from 2011-2012 have shown that the STAGES Project has helped students develop social skills, self-esteem, self-efficacy, problem-solving skills and overall psychological and behavioral functioning. Average student grades nine months after the program were a C+, an improvement from the D+ average before participating in the project.
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
10 a.m. Wednesday, July 18
The Electric Lodge, Venice