KENOSHA, Wis. — Keegan Martin, a seventh grader at Kenosha School of Technology Enhanced Curriculum, has been busy over the last few months working on the set of his middle school’s musical. 

What You Need To Know

  • Kenosha School of Technology Enhanced Curriculum opens its production of Moana Jr. on Friday, May 20

  • Students took the reins of the production, in charge of set design, costumes, sound, and lights

  • Teachers say this allows them to have creative control, and use the STEM foundations they learn in class in a real world setting

One of the biggest builds he and other students had was building a boat. 

“There are two pallets per thing, and we just found those in the old locker room," Martin explained, showing the two segments of the boat. 

Students recycled sets from a previous production of Frozen Jr., made palm trees out of paper and poster board, and found old Christmas lights in the school's attic to light up a waterfall. 

Martin didn’t realize just how much engineering work goes into producing a musical. 

“It’s a lot harder than it looks," Martin said. 

On Friday, the middle schoolers will open their production of Disney’s Moana Jr. 

It’s been more than two months of hard work, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. 

That includes putting finishing touches on costumes. 

“We have some sewing going on, hand sewing, some on a sewing machine," said Jayden Sanchez, an eighth grader in charge of the costume team. "Everybody works really hard, and it’s really a big thing for me to have them here, and help.”

Every job — from set design, to costumes, to props, to even directing — is done by a student. 

“[It's] lot of love and dedication from our directors, out cast has worked really well with us, we’ve helped them grow with lines, and they’ve been really thankful for what we’ve done for them and they’ve gone really far," said Madison Hall, a sixth grader serving as a Student Cast Director.

Of course, there are adults there to guide them to make sure the show is as good as it can be. 

Shannon Robertson is the lead director, and a teacher at KTEC.

She said after the school’s last show in December, she realized these aren’t "her" shows, and the students have really good ideas. 

“They’re closer to the age of our target audience, and they know what’s going to be true to the story and what’s going to bring that magic to the story for those kids in the audience," Robertson said. "I think it offers a lot to the creative process having them be a part of the vision.”

Not only that, Robertson says it teaches these students how those science, technology, engineering, and math skills that are so important in class — can be used in the theater setting, opening a world of opportunities for students later in life. 

"I think it's great for them to have appreciation for all of the other jobs and know that a lot goes into the making of a performance," Robertson said. 

With that knowledge, Robertson said there's just no telling how far they'll go. 

The show opens Friday at 6:30 p.m., and there are two shows Saturday — one at 2 p.m. and one at 6:30 p.m.