The Lord’s Passion is the apex of our faith journey, which is why Lent is a special season for our St. Joseph students. As a family, we prepare for Easter with prayer, penance, and fasting. And every year, during Holy Week, the middle school performs the Passion Play.
“Art captures your imagination,” said Ayesha. Franklin, St. Joseph School music teacher. “It is a different way to present any kind of material, and this is the most important material. It is another opportunity to explain to the great gift that we were given.”
Producing the play has a profound effect on the students involved, which Don Shafer, St. Joseph Middle School theology teacher, has witnessed during his years directing the show.
“For just a moment, it gives us a glimpse of what Jesus may have gone through and how surreal it is that he gave up his life for us,” Mr. Shafer said. “I think it gives the kids a chance to get involved with that in a way they never have before.”
This years’ actors were no exception.
“You’re more involved in the scenes, and it makes you feel like you’re more there,” said eighth-grader Jeremy Gallaway, who played Jesus. “You feel more emotion.”
“Experiencing the Passion Play this way is more visual, and you are able to connect with more characters instead of just reading about the characters and wondering what they felt,” said eighth-grader Hayden Skutt, who played Judas.
“Being involved is different,” said eighth-grader Julissa Reyes, who played Mary. “It is so much more emotional, especially the part where Jesus is nailed to the cross.”
This year that involvement grew.
Traditionally an 8th grade project, the new quarter class system enabled any interested middle-schooler to participate in the Passion Play. The fifth-grade choir prepared and performed the music, under the direction of Mrs. Franklin, and accompanied by St. Philip High School junior Adam Sprague.
“It is exciting for me to see kids from across grades working together,” Mrs. Franklin said. “I think this is a nice opportunity for that.”
Involving a broader cross-section of grades deepens the potential effect on the elementary students.
“Here at St. Joseph, the younger kiddos spend a lot of time looking up to the middle school kids and the fifth-grade kids,” Mrs. Franklin said. “When they see them singing in the Passion Play, it captures their attention, and if we do it right, they will forget that it’s their friend that they see in the hallway. We have an opportunity to transport them to a different time and place.”