Pupils create songs for class CD

Mount Pleasant to sell copies of Score!

By Stephen Sobek October 23, 2001

Mount Pleasant Elementary School second-grader Billy Ransom always will remember the definition of a simile

A simile, of course, is a phrase comparing two unlike things, sometimes using the words like or as.

But if the 7-year-old ever forgets, he has his song "Broccoli is Like a Tree" to remind him."Broccoli is like a tree," Billy sang to a driving rhythm of drums and electric guitars. "It has a trunk that's thick and crunchy a big bushy top that's green and bunchy. A tree you can eat but can not climb."

Billy was one of a class of 23 Mount Pleasant students temporarily turned into rock, folk and country music stars for a CD of songs they co-wrote, entitled "Score!"

The CD, completed by first-grade teacher Anabelle O’Malley’s class in June, has just been pressed, and the school hopes to sell 1,000 copies of it for $15 each as a fund-raiser

Local singer and songwriter Sevy Phalangas, whose 7-year-old daughter Danae Paparis was in O'Malley's class last year, helped the students write and arrange their 22 short songs on the CD.

The school in Bellefonte hopes to get local businesses to help sell the product. But in the meantime, administrators soon plan to place a link with purchasing information on the school's Web site at www.kl2.de~us/rntpleasantes.

Phalangas began working with students last fall helping them put on a dance-and-rhythm project based on the Broadway show "Stomp".

O'Malley and Phalangas decided the students could do more. It turns out that with a little prodding, they could write music.

"The children had never been exposed to thinking about melody" Phalangas said. "Some, I would guide them through choices ... Others already had a melodic line or phrase."All of the songs were in some way created by the children, she said.

She played many of the instruments herself and recruited friend and fellow musician Marc Moss of Elkton, MD., to perform the others. Moss also donated the use of his recording studio and produced the tracks.

Phalangas donated her time for the project.

Parents brought their students to the school on a Saturday to record their vocal tracks.

Second-grader Amy Zhang, 7, said her song "Raindrops," was inspired by class lessons on weather:

"I wanted to do something about lightning and I wanted to do something about rain," Amy said. Amy said she wants to be a songwriter now.

Even if the students didn't want to grow up to be rock stars, writing the songs drove home some of the other lessons they have learned in class such as Billy and his broccoli simile.

" I tried to encourage them that anything can be made to a song," Phalangas said.

Including breakfast food. Second-grader Christina Conmy's song "pancakes," tells us that they "aren't so neat." "With lots of syrup, they are gooey" Christina sang. "When you eat them, they are chewy."

Reach Stephen Sobek at 324-2435 or ssobek@delawareonline.com.