‘Arf!’ opens tonight at NorthWood High

Some folks in Wakarusa may have been inclined to ask a second- or third-grader if there is anything noteworthy taking place at school as of late.
And those inquiring may have heard the excited and enthusiastic response of “Arf!” This would not be the youngster’s best impersonation of a puppy, but rather, the name of a whimsical musical taking place this week at NorthWood High School.
The animal-inspired production will begin tonight at 7 p.m. in the NorthWood High School auditorium. The event is being directed by Shawn Skaggs, vocal music teacher for Wakarusa Elementary School, and will feature a cast comprised of the second- and third-grade students. Guests are being advised to arrive early, as seats generally fill up quickly. Parents of second-graders will have the best view of their children if they sit on the right side of the audience, while parents of third-graders can catch a better glimpse of their children from the left side of the audience.
The night will also include special selections from the show choir known as “Younger Generation,” which is comprised of several fourth- and fifth-grade singers. Their program is entitled, “Change the World.”
Ordinarily, theatrical presentations given by Wakarusa Elementary School are offered free of charge, but for this endeavor, staff members and students are taking a different approach by asking the community to help in what Skaggs calls a “musical outreach.”
Those who are coming to see “Arf” are being asked to participate in a drive to collect food and supplies to local agencies that care for animals. Among the items that are being sought for donations are dry cat and dog food, towels or blankets, copy paper, paper towels, and kitten bottles, although anything deemed pet-related is also welcomed. It is suggested that each family share at least one selection from the list on the night of the show, where there will be a specific place to drop off the items.
Those who will benefit from the outreach will include the St. Joseph and Elkhart County Humane Societies, as well as All 4 Animals, an Elkhart County foster care shelter facility for animals. Flyers will be distributed during the show of animals who are searching for loving, adoptive families.
Skaggs recalls that the idea to launch the pet supply collection came from a parent volunteer while discussing ideas and gathering props for the show. “One of the moms, Jennifer Cripe, mentioned it would be cool to have pictures of dogs which need adopted from the Humane Society,” she said. “Then she brought up the idea ‘what if we have families bring a pet-related item to our free concert, which we can donate to these places?’”
She adds, “Jennifer has done all the work and contacted St. Joseph and Elkhart County, and they are so excited that we are doing this.”
Local establishment Richmond’s Feed has also demonstrated a gracious willingness to help by giving the school more than 60 bags of dog food from distributors such as Canidae All Natural Dog Food, Cargiol Dog Food, Prince Corporation, and Eagle Dog Food.
The evening’s theme will have a decidedly “doggie” feel and atmosphere, as many volunteers have come forth to design “dog houses,” signs, and other puppy props.
All of the children who will be performing have been asked to wear their best dog apparel, which could include anything from ears, tails, spots, costumes, and shades of canine colors. The school hallways will be decorated with posters and pictures of the children posing with their favorite pups, and each teacher will have his or her own “dog house” decked out with embellishments and special artwork created by the children.
“This will give us that creative look, which is really what this whole program is about,” Skaggs notes. “Every dog is different from the other — different shapes, sizes, colors, breed, and voice — but we all have a talent to share with the world around us. Just like people. Your bark is important — that’s what ‘Arf’ is all about.”
For more information on how to help with this special project, or to learn more about the musical, persons may contact Wakarusa Elementary School at 574-862-2000, or sskaggs@wanee.org.
Cast members for “Arf” include the following students:
Doggie Town Chorus — Second and third-grade students
Announcer: Allison Nettrouer
Benny Beagle: Dasianae Washington
Connor Irish Setter: Andrew Bailey
Patty Pointer: Rhiannon Landis
Chow: Katelyn Rulli
Shih Tzu: Adrienna Kaser
Barney Basset Hound: Alexis Weldy
Terry Terrier: Morgan Berry
Chi Chi Chihuahua: Nicholas Lechlitner
Alfie Afghan: Araceli Martinez
Bernie Saint Bernard: Courtney Eby
Rodney Rottweiler: Emily Barrera
Polly Pomeranian: Macey Smith
Rex Retriever: Brett Maust
Poodle-aycious: Elizabeth Jansen
Larry Labrador: Colin Glick
Shar Pei: Amanda Foster
Rover: Chase Horner
General German Shepherd: Quinten Hunsberger
Lieutenant Doberman: Veshon Malone
Corporal Schnauzer: Tyler Cronkright
Private Dachshund: Landon Holland
Other Soldiers: Trenton Edwards, Stephen Schmidt, Keegan Silveus, Alex Wiseman, & Nicholas Jones
Simon English Bulldog - Ethan Ramer
Dalmatians: Alexzandria Jesse (Dali), Ashlyn Branch, Emily Bennett, Laura Eby, Alea Minnich, Bridget Marks, Paige Henschen, Kate Stillson, Sarah Homes, & Gracie Knepper
Boxers: Brock Flickinger, Ryne Flickinger, Jason Jackson, Bryce Resler, Trey Graber, Kyle Sellers, Kaden Newcomer, and Kael Hooley