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CANOGA PARK : Immigration Is the Theme for School Musical

October 18, 1994|MAKI BECKER

As Proposition 187, the controversial ballot initiative that seeks to curb illegal immigration, made headlines Monday, students at Canoga Park Elementary School put finishing touches on a musical play about how many of their parents fulfilled their dreams by coming to America.

More than 200 youngsters at the school, where the student population is about 80% Latino, rehearsed the play, "Give Me Your Tired, Give Me Your Poor," for the last time Monday afternoon.

The play dramatizes the stories of some of the children's parents and their moves to the United States from their home countries, said fifth-grade teacher Andrew Casey, who coordinated the production.

"It's an original play, written by the kids," Casey said, who combined the text the children wrote with songs ranging from "My Girl" by Smokey Robinson, which is sung to Lady Liberty, to Tracy Chapman's "Talking 'Bout a Revolution," lip-synced by a boy playing a Haitian man.

"I think it's kind of fun understanding all the cultures," said Johnny Arias, 10, who sings in the chorus.

"Everyone has ancestors from another country," said Johnny, whose parents are from El Salvador.

Quinn Pierfax, 10, said from working on the play, he learned that "People come here to have a better life."

He also discovered, he said, that people "can be friends if they treat people nice and don't do rude things."

At the close of the play, the children sing "Coming to America," a song written by Casey, with lyrics that go: "Oh, give me your tired, give me your poor. Fulfill your dream, may your journey endure. Yes, come to America. Come to America."

Four performances will be given Wednesday at 8:45, 9:45 and 11:30 a.m. and at 6:15 p.m.

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