Third grade students at Northlake Hills Elementary School explored the history of the Santa Clarita Valley through an original musical performance Wednesday morning.
With songs, dances and speeches, the 83 students from Pena’s, Scott’s and Gilbert’s third grade classes detailed the history of the valley from the time of the Tataviam Native Americans to the present-day movie location shoots.
“I think it helps them really understand the history in a certain way and to get a better feel for it,” third grade teacher Karry Pena said. “It takes it out of the textbook and makes it come alive for them.”
Pena said the students started learning about the history of the valley and preparing for the show in January. Twice a week, the students would learn their songs and practice the performance.
“We put a lot of work and effort into this and it shows,” Pena said.
The performance began with a unifying song before a group of students in brown hats came forward to share information about Tataviam Native Americans and their methods of hunting, gathering and trading.
“We’ve been here a long, long time,” the students sang in unison.
Next, a group of students wearing straw hats told the story of Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola and missionary Father Junipero Serra and their quest to build missionaries, farm the land and discover gold.
The following group of students sporting blue railroad hats shared the story of how the Northern and Southern Pacific Railroad joined with the completion of the San Fernando Tunnel and the creation of the Golden Spike at Lang Station in 1876.
“You could travel from northern to southern California in 25 hours,” the students sang.
Then, students in yellow hard hats detailed the history of Alex Mentry and his creation of the Mentryville Oil Town, the first successful oil refinery in present-day Newhall.
The next group of students dressed in black ties and top hats and shared the history of Henry Mayo Newhall, who invested in rail companies and purchased much of the land in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The final group of students wore boas, sunglasses and cowboy hats as they told audience members about the Western movies, silent films and present-day movies shot on location throughout the area.
Pena said the final song “Cowboys and Western Movies” was the students’ favorite song to perform.
“They enjoyed that one,” she said. “They get to boogie down.”
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