BROOKSVILLE — Most of the First Friends Preschool children who entered the room couldn't see over the black curtains draped across the PVC framework.
The curtains preserved what Chocachatti Elementary School MicroSociety teacher Ruth Markham called the magic.
Markham visited both locations of the preschool, as well as Evergreen Woods, with teacher Gail Sullivan and the MicroSociety class they teach called Puppetry Pride. They visited the three places May 17 to entertain the children and the Evergreen residents with puppet shows.
The children howled as the puppeteers made the Chipmunks, Chipettes and other colorful puppets dance and sing. Markham, a puppeteer for more than 30 years, also participated.
Noah Rosebush, 4, said his favorite part of the show was "Alvin, when he was dancing."
Morgan England, 5, said she enjoyed the doll, Sally (played by Markham). "She was dancing," Morgan said.
Danny Purchase, 4, had still another favorite. "I like the dark green guy," he said.
The puppeteers were third- through fifth-grade students, who chose puppetry as one of their two MicroSociety classes. Chocachatti students select two MicroSociety classes, which they take for 11/2 hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Fourth-grader Nathan Tirrell, 10, said he decided to take the puppet class because "it sounded like a good idea." The best part, he said, is "seeing the little kids' faces smile happily."
The Chocachatti students use borrowed puppets and some they have made to put on their shows. "This is our community function," Markham said about the recent presentation.
They have visited the preschool twice. First Friends teacher Jean Mistretta said the children get "a lot of enjoyment. They love it. It stimulates their imaginations."
Fourth-grader Hannah Ingram, 10, said she tried the puppet class because her brother did it before her. "I copied him," she said. She watched him do it "and I thought it was really cool," she said. "I like when you put your hand in it and I like it when you learned to move only your thumb."
Fifth-grader Mariah McKinley, 11, is an experienced puppeteer compared to some of the other students. "I've done it three years," she said. In the recent show she played Simon and the laughing guy, which was the puppet in the final segment. "I really like performing for all the little kids and making them smile," she said.
Markham and Sullivan were assisted by parent volunteers Lisa Hopper, whose son, Richie, 10, was in the show, and Debra Burzumato, whose daughter Alyson, 9, was also a puppet performer. Burzumato is, coincidentally, a Chocachatti second-grade teacher.
Alyson played a cheerleader. So did Kellie Kennedy, 10, and Alice Barlow, 9. Brittany Blouin, 9, Jessica Flaherty, 9, Keith McCausland, 9, and Nathan Tirrell, 10, did props; Juliana Carbo, 11, was in charge of Theodore; Richard Hopper, 10, and Tommy McCane, 10, operated bird/stretch puppets; Mariah McKinley, 11, was Simon; Honor Montmarquet, 11, Alvin; and Hannah Ingram, 10, Jaiden Macomber, 10, and Nicole Adelman, 11, were Chipettes.