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School celebrates storytellers

Stories came to life Thursday at Cluster Springs Elementary when the school held its second annual daylong storytelling festival featuring six storytellers.

According to Cluster Springs Elementary Principal Lisa Long, storytellers participated during the daylong event with three returning Thursday evening for a special event for the students, parents and community. 

Among the storytellers Thursday were David Novak, Dylan Pritchett, Sheila Arnold, Melissa Peacock, Sarah Graves and Francis Eugene Wood.

Novak has a background in theatre art including Shakespeare, clowning, creative dramatics, playwriting and directing. His aesthetic education programs have found audiences across the country from the Lincoln Center Institute to the Los Angeles Music Center On Tour. 

Pritchett has been a full-time storyteller since 1990 and on average he visits 100 schools, libraries, museums and other educational institutions. He is one of a handful of teaching artists in the John F. Kennedy Center’s “Partners in Education” National Touring Program; a teacher workshop based program. 

Graves studied dramatic art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been teaching sixth grade in Halifax County Public Schools for the past 10 years. In that time she has directed several shows for the Halifax County Little Theatre and has organized the Halifax County Middle School’s participation in the annual crossing of the Dan commemoration. 

In 2012 she was honored with the Teacher of the Year Award from the Virginia Society of the American Revolution.

Arnold has been performing since she was 8. She has been performing full-time since 2003 and goes to over 150 different venues a year. She currently lives in Hampton and presents storytelling programs, historic character presentations, Christian monologues and professional development for educators and inspirational/motivation speaking for schools, churches and organizations throughout the U.S.

Peacock moved to Halifax about 20 years ago to begin her career as a French teacher. She enjoyed teaching for several years at Halifax County High School with summers spent taking groups of students to tour France. After becoming involved with The Prizery and Halifax County Little Theatre she began directing, producing and helping with props and publicity. Currently she is the assistant dean of academics at Carlbrook School.

Wood began writing when he was very young and enjoyed stories of his grandparents. He kept journals, wrote poetry and songs. In 1997 he started Tip-of-the-Moon publishing company with his wife. He taught radio courses at Longwood and was host of the award winning “Call Flo Radio Show” and often conducts lectures concerning the broadcasting industry.

Peacock began storytelling with kindergarteners, Novak with first graders, Pritchett with second graders, Graves with third graders, Arnold with fourth graders and Wood with fifth graders. 

Throughout the day the students would go to different stations throughout the school to visit the different storytellers.

Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Pritchett, Novak and Arnold returned to Cluster Springs Elementary School gym for a free presentation for the students, parents and community.