Performing Arts Program Honors Former Student at West De Pere MS - WBAY

Performing Arts Program Honors Former Student at West De Pere MS

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West De Pere -

Update: Corrects time of performances to 8:45 A.M.

Students in summer classes at West De Pere Middle School get to explore their creative side through a unique performing arts program.

It was created in honor a student who passed away several years ago.

Dressed in their costumes and practicing their lines, West De Pere Middle School students are preparing for a special performance.

"I really like to be acting," said student Elijah Payant.

It's part of a performing arts program called the Fine Arts Institute, inspired by former student Luke Stempa, who passed away unexpectedly at the age of 12 in 2006.

"Luke was born with a major heart defect and a cleft lip and palate. From little on, he was a character," said his mother Gerri Stempa.

The program is based on a story Luke wrote in second grade.

It was turned into a play, which students learn and then perform.


"We went through the stuff. It was just to keep his memory alive and even to do it to this day is just awesome," added Gerri.

"The concept of the story is the reason we say 'yeah, but I don't want to' to our moms and dads is because aliens have come down and invaded our brain," explained director Peggy Eserkaln. 

The program is in its 7th year.

It started with 20 kids and has grown to 80 and now includes improv classes.

Luke's mom says it's something he would enjoy.


"I think he would think it's awesome. He would be 20 years old. He'd probably be leading the kids if he could," she said.

The director of the program says would like to use the play to establish a scholarship fund in the future.

The students will perform the play on Monday, June 30, and Tuesday, July 1, at 8:45 a.m. at West De Pere Middle School.

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