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Voyager showcased

Julie Angell • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:33 PM

Each sailor, lady, captain and seaman commanded the audience’s attention and filled the auditorium with loud and talented voices. 

 

“Love is a platform where all planks meet,” proclaimed the First Lord of the Admiralty, played by student Lily McCain. 

 

The quirky love story of H.M.S. Pinafore fit well with the students’ enthusiasm for the opera. 

 

The opera is a frolicsome tale set in the later 1800s aboard a nonsensical ship in the British Navy. Director Jim Sommerfeldt said the school went all out to make sure the opera was a hit to celebrate 40 years of alternative learning. 

 

Sommerfeldt, who is referred to as the “Old Man” of Voyager School because he’s been teaching there for more than 20 years, said the students love theater and they’re kept busy with improv, drama and choreography lessons throughout the year. 

 

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All of this is in preparation for two productions a year, ranging from Schoolhouse Rock to classic Shakespearean plays. Sommerfeldt said his approach with his students is letting them find themselves and explore their talents on their own. 

 

Whether Voyager kids are building the stage, in the spotlight, or behind it in front of a computer, they have the freedom to find their own niche. Liam Dejong sat below the stage pressing buttons and making sure the music ran smoothly. 

 

Dejong said he’s more of a tech guy rather than a performer, and he likes the independent, project-based learning that goes on at Voyager.

 

Since 1973, when the school was established, Sommerfeldt said one change has been merging and blending all of the age levels into one family. Students learn respect, responsibility and how to help each other learn in one classroom. 

 

To read more of this story, see Saturday's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

 

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