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Students Perform Annie Jr. to Packed Audience

Students on stage performing Annie Jr.

The first-ever collaboration with Belton ISD and The Penguin Project culminated in outstanding performances on Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30, as students from across the district came together to perform "Annie Jr."


Students involved in The Penguin Project perform a modified version of a well-known musical. For BISD's inaugural performance, "Annie Jr." was chosen. The Penguin Project productions are unique because all of the roles are filled by young artists with developmental disabilities. They are joined on stage by a dedicated group of "peer mentors" who volunteer to work side-by-side with them through months of rehearsals and in the final performance. 

The collaboration with The Penguin Project was an idea championed by the Belton ISD Board of Trustees because it aligns with the district's Value and Belief, "each and every student deserves exceptional learning experiences according to their unique needs and passions." 

Cast members were, in order of appearance:

Molly - Rose Gann
Kate - Lexi Murphy
Tessie/Lily - Bella Mikes
Pepper - Riley Long
July - Maddie Dollar
Orphan - Calleigh Morrow
Orphan/Mrs. Greer - Maccee Kacal
Orphan - Aleia Walker
Annie - Gracie Legg
Miss Hannigan - Meadow Lee
Bundles McCloskey/President Roosevelt - Jayden Fentenot
Apple Seller/Louie Howe - Bentley Moore
Sandy - Molly Kate Elkins
Officer Ward/Dogcatcher - Ewan Stanley
Grace Farrell - Luci Littlefield
Drake - Bryce Robinson
Cecille - Yamiril Alvarado
Annette - Dori Sawyer
Mrs. Pugh/Usherette - Kaydence Mangnall
Oliver Warbucks - Christopher Firkins
Rooster - James Ryals
Bert Healy - Scott Bradfute
Sound Effects - Dakotah Ozark

Peer mentors: Omar Aguiar; Zander Aguiar; Scott Ayedelotte; Chandler Depue; Mariel Kacal; Maya Kacal; Hayden Maroney; Katherine McAfee; Lillie Mikes; Zoei Oaks; Emry Olivarez; Payton Shaw; Ally Rastelli; Gia Rastelli; Dori Sawyer; Kali Sawyer; Lexy Speegle; Patricia Walker; and Livvy White. 

Director: Allison Ware; Musical Director: Aleisha Martinez; Choreographer: Bree Strnad/Courtland Snelling; Stage Manager: Shelby Cozart; Mentor Coordinator: Sarah Wong; and Penguin Project Coordinator: Jennifer Ramirez. 

The impact of The Penguin Project reaches beyond the stage, creating important social networks for each and every student.