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Echo Shaw makes big 'power play'

PGE, children's theater team up to bring lessons to Forest Grove


Students listened, laughed and learned last Monday at Echo Shaw Elementary School in Forest Grove when a unique play came to town.

“Pedro’s Path to Power,” a bilingual interactive musical by playwright Matthew B. Zrebski, captured pupils’ attention during a morning assembly April 28, educating them about electrical safety through song, dance and audience participation.

A partnership between Portland General Electric and Oregon Children’s Theatre, the production teaches kindergarten- through third-grade students that they have the power to make smart, safe choices around electricity.

“We appreciated how there was culturally relevant language and references throughout,” said Jennifer Yankovich, counselor at Echo Shaw. “The songs, hand motions and play were all very relatable.

“The part about keeping objects [such as a fork] out of electrical outlets really caught the kids’ attention.”

For Kregg Arnston, PGE’s corporate social responsibility manager, that was exactly the point.

“Safety is one of our top priorities at PGE,” said Arnston. “Pedro’s Path to Power is an exciting and fun way to teach children how electricity works and most importantly how to stay safe and make smart choices around electricity.”

With 44 shows at 36 different elementary schools in only four weeks, this year’s tour is reaching more students than ever before, Arnston noted. The 30-minute play, which is free to the schools, follows 7-year-old Pedro — played by actor Rafael Miguel — as he travels on his path to power and learns about electricity.

Pedro and his friend Serena, played by Cassie Greer, are busy playing baseball when Pedro hits a homerun and the ball flies over the fence. As they climb over the fence to reach the ball they notice a “black snake,” which Pedro’s mom identifies as a downed power line.

This sets the scene for Pedro to understand electrical power and make safe choices.

“Oregon Children’s Theatre is proud to partner with PGE for a fourth season of Pedro’s Path to Power,” said Stan Foote, OCT’s artistic director. “As partners we believe in the power to teach life skills.”

Electrical safety tips in Spanish and English help the play break cultural and language barriers students may face, helping them to feel included in their schools and communities.

“We appreciated the Spanish that was used and that it was fast-paced,” said Yankovich. “The kids thought the actors were really funny — they laughed a lot because they could relate.

“Teachers were laughing as well.”

Even more important, Yankovich said, were the lessons learned, some of which could save a life or boost a career.

“Most of the kids could probably show you how a turbine spins and how electricity is made,” she said.

See the play

“Pedro’s Path to Power” will be offered Friday, May 9 at Patterson Elementary, 261 N.E. Lenox St. in Hillsboro; Monday, May 12 at Witch Hazel Elementary, 4950 S.E. Davis Road, and Brookwood Elementary, 3960 S.E. Cedar St. in Hillsboro; and Friday, May 16 at West Union Elementary, 23870 N.W. West Union Road, Hillsboro, and North Plains Elementary, 32030 N.W. North Ave., North Plains.

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