In 1977 Lois Cohn, Media Center Specialist, first came up
with the idea for the Pageant after sharing an article with Weaver Principal, John Blaydes. The article showed a picture from an educator's magazine of
children sticking their heads through a backdrop of "Sunday Afternoon at
La Grande Jatte." John Blaydes encouraged Lois Cohn and Shirley Johns to go forward with the project.
Lois Cohn John Blaydes
Under the careful guidance of Shirley Johns, the Art Lab director, the students
created a replica of the piece. Its first presentation was to a PTA audience.
The students stood still in front of the painting in costumes and character
while classical music was playing. And that was it! The next year a new
painting was added entitled, "Country Schoolhouse" by Winslow Homer,
with a square dance theme but still no movement. The following year the teachers
moved to McGaugh Elementary School in Seal Beach, CA. Due to the move, the
Pageant was delayed for a year.
The next piece, "Broadway Boogie Woogie" brought with it toe tapping
music and choreography by Jean Parks Mongone. The Pageant became part of the
school wide curriculum. The media center adapted a program called REACH where
the students researched the yearly artists and had opportunities to study many
art styles, cultures, and diversities. A program called SPLASH was adopted to
teach 5th graders different aspects of choreography, stage directions,
rehearsals, teamwork, stage presence, and the joy of performing before an
Jean Parks Mongone
The 4th graders had an opportunity to audition for a speaking part where they
assumed the role of the artists to introduce each painting.
Matt Reid Cohn, original keyboard player in the rock group Berlin, became our
in-house composer. He has composed numerous original pieces for the Pageant
that compliment the paintings.
Every year ten paintings are presented as part of the Pageant, which includes
dropping an old painting and introducing a new one. Mixed emotions follow the
exit of a painting because children take such pride and ownership in each piece
of artwork they brought to life. From Kindergarten on, the students at McGaugh
anticipate performing in the Pageant. Many former students come back year after
year to reminisce about their involvement in Pageant history.
The Pageant has been honored by the California State School Board Association,
with the Golden Bell Award, and the Los Angeles Music Center Bravo Award. The
Pageant is currently featured in the Orange County Imagination Celebration.