Zoe Gonzalez played the part of Frosty the Snowman in Black Butte School’s Camp Sherman Winter Performance.photo by Jerry Baldock
Zoe Gonzalez played the part of Frosty the Snowman in Black Butte School’s Camp Sherman Winter Performance.photo by Jerry Baldock
“Penguins, attention!” yelled a man in a wild red jumpsuit.

“Penguins, begin!” answered a small group of tots dressed as aquatic flightless birds.

Thus began the annual Winter Performance in Camp Sherman on Friday, December 10, presented by Black Butte School. Dancing and singing on the road in front of their picturesque school, the kindergarten and first-grade penguins made way for Frosty the Snowman.

Kids sang and danced the familiar story, with Zoe Gonzalez playing the part of Frosty in a beautiful fur skirt. Her hat nearly blew away in the fun.

Volunteer firefighters and deputies from Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office kept lights twirling and traffic blocked off. The Hodag, a mysterious creature that allegedly lives at Hoodoo Ski Bowl, wiggled and high-fived its way through the crowd.

The school’s winter show has been a tradition for so long, “it’s something that people expect and look forward to. It’s a touchpoint in the year,” according to co-director Jennie Sharp.

She described it as a variety show, sometimes featuring comedy and poetry, other times mounting full-length plays. Locals usually gather at the community hall to watch. “Every year’s a little bit different,” Sharp said.

The pandemic meant that this year, things got really different: the school took the show outside. “I could not imagine how to do a performance with kids wearing masks,” Sharp said.

Performing indoors would have also required limiting attendance. “Since it’s one of the main community events in Camp Sherman I didn’t want to do that,” Sharp explained, “especially after not doing a performance at all last year.”

Third and fourth graders pulled a decorated tree on a wagon, performing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” on the pavement. Then came the middle schoolers, doing a “Reindeer Milk” jam with their snow shovels, then busting out with percussion instruments. The audience clapped along to their rockin’ holiday tune.

The man in the red jumpsuit, a natural performer, urged them on. Known to the kids as Mr. B, he is Ethan Barrons, teacher and co-director. Barrons, Sharp, students, firefighters, and audience all paraded across the Metolius River for a round of holiday caroling.

“I’m dressed as Frosty the Snowman,” Gonzalez said afterward, gesturing at her white clothes. She liked the hat. “It’s pretty comfy.”

Preparing for a big performance takes a lot of practice. Rehearsing “feels tiring,” said Gonzalez, but “somehow it’s like blowing up, like exciting.” Her grandma, Ms. Holly, played the piano for the show.

The hardest part for this third grader wasn’t nerves or choreography.

“The words!” she said. “We just memorized it on a piece of paper.”

Still, she wasn’t nervous.

“I just see my mama and daddy watching me, I felt like I was a TV show,” especially when she noticed people taking photos. “It was just natural. I just didn’t worry about it.”

“This year our group of kids is really getting into it,” said Sharp of the rehearsal process. “It’s been fun—there’s been some leadership from the older kids.”

As a teacher, she appreciated the performance because it “really was the kids’ show,” not hers. “Choreography isn’t one of my strong points,” said Sharp. “The kids are much better at remembering all of the dance moves, and they came up with some really cute ideas for their dances.”

Sharp noted that in this dark time of year, Camp Sherman residents don’t see each other as often as usual, “because the days are shorter. The Winter Performance is a chance for the community to see the kids, and a chance for the kids to show what they’re learning at school. We have a lot of retirees here, and it’s a way for them to interact with the kids. It brings joy.”

In the audience, the Ruckman family, with two preschool-age girls, seemed joyful indeed. “It looks like they’re all having a really good time,” said mom McKenzie Ruckman of the performers. “Seeing all those kids together in one place... We haven’t had a ton of opportunities over the last two years.”

Her daughters hid shyly as the crowd circulated in front of Camp Sherman General Store, which served complimentary hot drinks.

The Ruckmans moved to Camp Sherman from Bend just over a year ago. “We’re really enjoying learning to be part of the community,” Ruckman said. “We’re looking forward to going to the school next year.”

Black Butte School is small, typically serving around two dozen students ranging from kindergarten through 8th grade. “It seems like it has a lot of community and tradition, good values,” Ruckman said, as a penguin dashed by.