Cook Literacy Model School educators plan fundraising dinner theatre for academic excellence

Elliott Lowery and Cook Literacy Model School Principal Celena Tribby.

Cook Literacy Model School educators plan fundraising dinner theatre for academic excellence
February 23
10:48 2023

By Felecia Piggott-Long, Ph.D.

When Elliott D. Lowery retired from the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in 2020 after teaching almost 40 years, he had no intention to return to the “scene of the time.” However, Lowery is pleased to be back in the field of education as a music teacher at Cook Literacy Model School. He and Principal Celena Tribby are working together to sponsor a community-oriented dinner theatre featuring “LION KING, JR.” scheduled to be presented in May, and they need the help of all supporters of Cook Literacy Model School.

“I am thrilled to be able to work with such a talented group of students who may never have been able to perform on stage without the exposure they are now receiving,” Lowery said. “One of my fifth graders told me he had never performed on a stage until he participated in the Cook holiday musical. I was elated and saddened at the same time. Elated that he had the opportunity to perform, but saddened that it took him five years to accomplish that goal.

“When talking about the value of theatre for young students, I turn to theatre arts skills as a whole – music, theatre, dance and visual arts,” said Lowery. “These elements are closely related to literacy, which are valuable and important parts of a students’ learning.”

Principal Celena Tribby is currently in her second year as the leader of Cook Literacy Model School. She met Lowery two years ago when she was searching for a music teacher for the school.

 “I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Lowery in August of 2022 when we were looking for a music teacher. He has been the answer to my prayer. He has been a blessing to Cook Literacy Model School. He has inspired students and staff to embrace their artistic talents,” said Tribby.

 “He believes in all children and has high expectations for everyone that he encounters. He creates relationships that promote excellence.”

Lowery led the students in performing a holiday musical, “CLMS Multicultural Holiday Production,” in December.  The production celebrated four holidays observed in December: Christmas, Las Posadas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah.  More than 150 students were involved in the production and more than 250 parents, family and friends attended

“The holiday musical in December was phenomenal! What I enjoyed was seeing the many talents of our students, the joy the parents had, and the support from the community,” said Principal Tribby.

Fourth grader Ja’Marion Huling served as an actor and a narrator in the production. Huling enjoyed the production for varied reasons. “The production gave me a chance to act and I enjoyed the African dancers who performed during the Kwanzaa portion of the show,” Huling said.

Cook Literacy Model School began its partnership with Union Baptist Church through the Rise Up and Read Initiative, under the leadership of Bishop Sir Walter Mack, Jr., the pastor. This is the second year of their partnership.

Lowery would like for the production in May to showcase student talent and raise funds to make future productions at Cook Literacy Model comparable to those at the National Black Theatre Festival or those sponsored by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company. Lowery has taught music and theatre in Las Vegas, New York, and in Winston-Salem. His plan is to teach four or five more years. 

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