Attending live theater is always an experience, and more so, as Shelbyville Middle School seventh graders learned last week, when it involves over 300 classmates and multiple buses traveling to downtown Indianapolis. The entire grade, including Life Skills students, piled into eight buses Thursday for the annual excursion to the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre.

“The trip in itself is a unique experience,” Mrs. Rachel Hutchinson said. She is the primary organizer and has brought her students all 13 years she has been with the school corporation. Students of Mrs. Paige Wise and Mr. Kristiaan Rawlings also attend. “It is so amazing to hear all the students get excited as we drive into Indy and see the big buildings and Lucas Oil Stadium,” Hutchinson said.

Kobe Rosales, a seventh grader, concurred. “On the ride, I got to hang out with friends who I don’t normally see daily.”

Although students either read the play or Charles Dickens’s original text beforehand, seeing the production is an enlightening experience.

“My favorite part was the opening scene,” Stormie Bolden said. “I loved how everyone gasped when (the actors) came from a trap door. That scene stuck out to me most because it really brought out Scrooge’s character.”

The kids were divided on which they enjoyed more, the book or the performance, and some took the middle option.

“The experience of reading the book in class before really helped me understand the play because a lot of it was exactly the same as the book,” Jayda Powell said.

Camden Thoman agreed, noting that many of the familiar words and phrases - including “Bah, humbug!” - appear in both.

The Cohen Education Fund covered approximately two-thirds of the cost, with students paying $5 each. Many students later wrote letters to Mr. Alan and Mrs. Linda Cohen, thanking them for the opportunity and including their favorite parts of the performance.

“After reading ‘A Christmas Carol’, I wanted the play to be Broadway material, and it met the expectations,” Natalya Morales-Schumate said.

Mrs. Hutchinson noted that Dickens’s classic continues to inspire kindness and generosity.