“We might be famous!” said Demery Williams-Rose, a second-grader at Wintergreen Interdistrict Magnet School, as he stood onstage at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center .
Demery, wearing a formal gray jacket and black pants, was in character as actor Henry Fonda and stood sandwiched between two classmates also dressed as actors from “On Golden Pond.”
“I can’t believe it’s happening today,” said Isabella Ortiz, who played Demery’s co-star — and daughter — Jane Fonda.
Ortiz was referring to their class trip to The Kate, which required a lot of preparation: each student had researched the life of a star from a Katharine Hepburn movie, and now, holding helpful notecards in their hands, they told Kate staff members about their findings.
The students also dressed up as stars for the occasion: Isabella wore a string of fake pearls, another girl showed off a sparkling, midnight blue dress, and some of the boys sported plastic black top hats.
Ryan Fitzpatrick wore large, dark-rimmed glasses in the style of his star, Spencer Tracy. Ryan said he wasn’t nervous for the presentation — just excited. He’d loved learning about Tracy’s two Oscar wins.
The project was part of the school’s mission to integrate the arts into the classroom, said school theme coach Ingrid Ellinger-Doviak. She added that with the project, kids can learn about history through movies, calling it “a perfect educational enrichment piece.”
The Hamden school holds weekly trivia contests to get its staff excited about the arts. To determine which class visited The Kate, the school challenged students and teachers to correctly name the father-daughter pair that starred alongside Katharine Hepburn in one of her movies.
The pair was Henry and Jane Fonda. Darrylle Olsen, the 2017 ACES Teacher of the Year, and her students were the first to call in with the answer.
During a tour preceding their presentations, Olsen’s students bustled excitedly around The Kate’s small museum, playing with the small lightbulbs that bordered movie posters and asking questions such as , “Are those Katharine Hepburn’s Oscars?” (The trophies, held in a display case, were notHepburn’s Oscars, said Sara Keaney, who gave the tour; the Smithsonian has those.)
The trip marked the first time WIMS had organized an activity at The Kate, Ellinger-Doviak said. Moving forward, the school hopes to develop a partnership and organize future activities with the arts center.
For The Kate, the event also was a first: though it holds many educational events each year, the WIMS visit marked the first time students have presented material , said Brett Elliott, executive director at The Kate.
Robin Andreoli, director of development and community relations, noted the students’ young age also was unusual, as students who participate in Kate programs often are older.
She and other staff members were excited about the visit.