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Beth, left, played by Cayla Wolpers, and Eddie, right, played by Gabriel Garcia, listen to Tess, played by Andrea Ivy, during the play “Valentine’s Day” performed by the CLIMB Theatre at Northwestern Elementary School on Wednesday afternoon. The play taught the children how to make friends and importance of being a good friend. (Jed Carlson/

Troupe offers lessons in friendship

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Troupe offers lessons in friendship
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A shy boy with a passion for the Beatles, a popular girl who froze up during her book report and a girl who sings to tomatoes met Wednesday at Northwestern Elementary School.


The three, played by CLIMB Theatre actors, shared lessons about making and keeping friends with students.

“It was good,” said Logan Johansen, 9, of Poplar after the performance. He and classmate Kennedy Remington, 8, of Maple said their favorite part was when one of the girls helped the other two become friends.

Making friends can be hard, the children agreed. But some of the tips shared by the acting troupe are ones that really work.

“Introduce yourself to them and tell them your name and say ‘Do you want to be friends?’” Kennedy said. “That’s how me and MacKenzie became BFF.”

“I introduce myself and then I tell my favorite things and I ask them if they want to be my friend,” Logan said.

One of the big lessons shared by the CLIMB Theatre performers was how to empathize, or put yourself in someone else’s shoes. That’s how Logan and Kennedy first became friends.

“In second grade when he first came here, when he went to the monkey bars he first had no idea how to do the swinging monkey bars and then I went, ‘Here’s an easy way: put one hand there, the other one there and then swing, like kick your feet and swing,’” Kennedy said.

Logan said having Kennedy step forward to help made him feel good. He responded with “Thank you,” and they became friends.

The play was set on Valentine’s Day, one of the characters’ birthdays. Two of the characters didn’t get many cards, which made them sad. The third graders said Valentine’s Day isn’t too stressful for them.

“If you don’t have friends then you might not have cards,” Kennedy said, but that shouldn’t be a problem even for a character like Eddie, the shy boy in the play. “If he wasn’t my friend, and he had no friends at all, I would still give him a Valentine. He’s still in our class; he could make new friends.”

“Because if you give them a Valentine, you can still be friends with them,” Logan said.

CLIMB Theatre, based in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., has been educating children with drama since 1975. The touring troupe offers shows on many different topics, with bullying and social skills being some of the most popular, according to cast member Cayla Wolpers. Along with group performances, the nonprofit group also provides interactive lessons for individual classrooms. Funded primarily through the Minnesota State Arts Board, CLIMB Theatre travels throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota and Iowa to educate through theater.

For more information on the troupe, which also performed at Four Corners Elementary School on Tuesday, go to http://

Logan, who plays the part of an Oompa-Loompa in the upcoming Northwestern High School musical “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” said he’s pretty good at memorizing lines. Both he and Kennedy said they would enjoy acting in a troupe like CLIMB someday. Especially, Kennedy said, “if you could help kids make new friends.”

Maria Lockwood
(715) 395-5025