March 07, 2007 Edition

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Williams Baptist College students Allison Wiggins (from left), Ashley Smith, Katherine Yancy and Justin Risley perform at the "Story Store" production. The actors' script was developed from stories written by area gifted and talented students.

'Story Store' marks eight production

Will Morledge of Black Rock (from left), Hunter Nunnally of Hillcrest and Jesse Hufstedler of Sloan-Hendrix pose for a photo at the "Story Store" production at the Walnut Ridge Community Center. Each of the students' stories were performed by actors from Williams Baptist College.

Rachel Land of Hoxie (from left) and Anna Bland of Walnut Ridge submitted stories, which were chosen to be performed at this year's "Story Store" production. The presentation is sponsored by the Northeast Arkansas Educational Cooperative and Williams Baptist College.

The eighth annual "Story Store" production was held Tuesday at the Walnut Ridge Community Center.

The production is sponsored by Williams Baptist College and the Northeast Arkansas Educational Cooperative and allows area Gifted and Talented students to submit stories, which are acted out by students from WBC.

Stories are submitted to Melinda Williams, assistant professor of communication arts at WBC, and she puts the stories into a script. Williams works with Jill Clogston, of the co-op, on the production each year.

The stories come from 17 schools that are served by the Northeast Arkansas Educational Cooperative, and at least one story from each school is selected.

The schools are invited to one of two productions. Following the production, the students whose stories are selected are called on stage to receive an autographed, bound copy of the script.

The idea for the "Story Store" originated when Williams attended a conference at the Walton Fine Arts Center in Fayetteville several years ago. They were seeking writers for a program in which students from all over the state submitted stories. The stories were then put into a script, and a production, using the script, toured the state going to the schools.

However, the program lost funding. Williams drew up a proposal for the local co-op along the same lines as the program in Northwest Arkansas. With the help of Clogston and Gifted and Talented teacher Rebecca Jones of Imboden, the program was accepted by the co-op.

"The teachers all tell me how much it means to their students, but I don't think they realize how much it means to the WBC students and me. I love to write and this gives me a captive audience. The students who attend the production make my actors feel like celebrities. It is great for the ego." Williams said.

The basic idea for the production remains the same every year. The play takes place in a store that sells stories, not books. The store exists to spark creativity and imagination.

"Different things take place in the store," Williams said. "We have customers that first learn about the store, the threat that the store would close down, the expansion of the store to other locations, computers coming into the store and holidays being celebrated."

In order to tell the stories a group of actors get out of a large red box that sits stage left. They use props in the store and from the box to help tell the stories.

Every year Williams gives the Gifted and Talented students a theme to work with and the stories center on that theme.

"This year the theme was to tell a story from a different perspective -~ like tell the story of Cinderella from the viewpoint of her shoe. In the play, the people in the store are learning how to see things from another person's viewpoint."

Students whose stories were chosen were: Aaron Meadows of Piggott; Anna Bland of Walnut Ridge; Felicia Curtis of Williford; Zach Doyle and Hunter Nunnally of Hillcrest; Will Morledge of Black Rock; Lenae Haley and Sydney Simmons of Rector; Jesse Hufstedler of Sloan-Hendrix; Makala Norris of Maynard; Morgan Mann of Swifton; Connor Scotson of Pocahontas; Rachel Pitcher of Delaplaine; Madison Beasley of Paragould; Rachel Land of Hoxie; Tucker Harris and Abby Huckabee of Greene County Tech; Sierra Mitchell and Madison Ermert of Corning; Ami Clymer of Jackson County; Wendi Donner of Oak Ridge; and Katlyn Wright of Oak Grove.

WBC student actors included: Chris Collier of Tyronza, Katherine Yancy of Maynard, Justin Risley of West Fork, Ashley Smith of Salem and Allison Wiggins of Marion.

Heath James of Ravenden Springs served as stage manager.

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