I was teaching fifth grade at Beaumont Elementary in 1993 when Knox County Schools redesigned us to be a magnet school, and we became Beaumont Magnet Academy. Although, we were uncertain about the transition from a community school to one where students from all areas of Knoxville would come together as one, we were amazed at the commonalities created by the assumed diversity. So, after 30 years and even some misguided attempts at defunding the program, Beaumont is going strong in academics, joined communities and fantastic programming as was evidenced last week in their production of Beauty and the Beast Jr.
The cast performed three shows for their own student body as well as first and second graders from Green Magnet Academy! The show received rave reviews from all those audiences before performing in front of the packed house of parents and community in the evening.
Vickie Wells, grandmother and active volunteer served as roving reporter, gathering reviews of the performance from both the audience and performers in this classic tale.
Both Wells and principal Windy Clayton commented on how remarkable the performances were and how involved the audience was in the entire evening! Wells said, “This experience will be with these students forever! It was an honor to be there and see it in person! Amanda Taylor, the theater teacher and director, is a wonder!” Clayton agreed, “I have watched Ms. Taylor since she started and this play rivals anything I have seen in the county.”
Josh Kimrey whose son, Luke Kimrey performed as a member of the Wolf Pack said, “My son has had a lot of fun with this play.”
Students exuded with excitement about their participation in the play. Jace Neal played the music conductor and was still swinging his baton at the end of the play, saying, “I enjoyed doing this!” Buster Lashier, who played Gaston, emphatically stated, “I am going to keep doing what I’m doing, not changing what I’m doing. I had a good time.”
Lillian Crawford was the narrator of the play and loved her part as well with audience members stating, “You were very clear. We could understand every word!”
As these students move on in their journeys to middle schools all over the county from Bearden, Holston, Whittle Springs, Vine and Gresham, each will have their foundation from their unique bond formed in their Beaumont Magnet School experience.
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