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Teacher Tani Misquez shares a book with Diablo Vista students during a recent book fair.

It was titled "A Tour of the World," and it's what Jack London Elementary provided during its second annual black history celebration.

Held recently at the Antioch school, the big night included Sheila E. as the guest performer.

Principal Debra Harrington said the singer "interacted with students, calling them onto the stage to perform with her. (She then) stayed afterward for photos and autographs."

The event also featured student performers, including the Jack London Chorus singing a Nigerian folk song, kindergartners singing "Rainbow World" and "It's a Wonderful World," the Deer Valley High Polynesian Dancers, Kucheza Ngoma Dance Company and a local steppers group comprising former Jack London students.

Happy about the offering, Harrington said more than 500 folks were in attendance.

Also, like many across the country, Jack London celebrated Dr. Seuss Week. Guest readers included Dr. Don Gill and board member Barbara Cowan. Each day featured a special theme and morning announcements offered Seuss quotes. The week included a book fair at Barnes & Noble highlighting the beloved author's books.

THEY'VE GOT THE BEAT: The show is called "We Will Rock You," and they did indeed.

Once again, Heritage High's drama department offered its sold-out crowds pro-style entertainment.

Heritage made history by becoming the first U.S. school to receive permission to perform the musical by Queen.


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"This musical has been quite an odyssey," teacher and director Chris Fallows said. "Being selected by Queen to premiere the show was a huge and terrifying honor." Because so many seniors graduated after last year's award-winning "Hairspray," Fallows figured it would be a rebuilding year.

Instead he -- and everyone involved -- has been happily surprised despite the number of newbies that will be on stage. For example, this is the first musical for the three male leads, which "have almost no acting experience at all. (In the beginning), they were so green that I wondered how it would come together." But, come together it has, even with the program's largest cast to date with 56 talents keeping the 2-hour-plus show on track.

While Fallows is proud of the entire cast, he is taken with Zachary Elsasser, who plays the lead of Galileo Figaro and Alex Finlez as Britney Spears.

"They've managed to be funny and honest, which is a tricky combination." He gives special recognition to Finlez, who makes his theater debut with "Rock." "He was beyond nervous but stepped it up and created a character people love and believe in. ... He's made huge progress."

As for Elssaser, Fallows said, "He is simply a gem. I did not know how good he would end up looking on stage. ... He works very hard every day at being better, makes the most of his time, and thinks deeply about his choices. Oh, and his voice has such wonderful expression. (He) makes the songs his own.

"This show may have been the most work I have ever done for a play, and the most satisfying." For the first time, the Heritage players held a benefit performance for Mercury Phoenix Trust (Queen's AIDS awareness memorial fund for Freddie Mercury) and for the Stuart Music Fund, a scholarship fund for local music students. The show raised $2,830.

The run of "We Will Rock You" has ended, but for information on future offerings, call 925-437-3078.

GREEN EGGS & HAM & FUN: Diablo Vista Elementary recently celebrated Read Across America and showed its love for Dr. Seuss. The event was to "promote the love of reading to our school community," said Melanie Jones, the Antioch school's principal.

Held at Barnes & Noble, the book fair featured Jones and teachers reading their favorite books to the crowd of about 175. Treats from Panda Express and Cold Stone Creamery were sold, along with books to help raise about $1,000 for the school.

"Students and families had a fantastic time," Jones said.

The event also featured a scavenger hunt, raffle prizes and mascot Splash the dolphin.

If you have school news to share, contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net. You can also reach Judith Prieve at jprieve@bayareanewsgroup.com.