Fourth- and fifth-grade students transformed into their characters as they recited and acted out their humorous and serious solo and duo pieces at the Tehachapi Unified School District's Oral Language festival.

“I thought it would be fun being with all my friends. We practiced and had a lot of help from our teachers. I feel good,” 9-year-old Callahan Shipman said at the Dec. 4 event.

Shipman participated in the same interpretation along with two other students, Addison Shea and Helena Casas, in reciting "Earrings," in which the character begs her parents for the item as a gift.

“It was challenging trying to memorize it,” added Shea, 10.

Overall winners from each of the district's three elementary schools who participated in the competition go on to the Regional Oral Language Competition on Dec. 8. The oral language festival provides the opportunity for students to memorize and present interpretations of literary works of their choice and practice their writing, reading, speaking and listening skills.

“It’s a great opportunity for families to come together and for our students to showcase their skills," said Bonny Porter, secondary coordinator of learning and achievement for the district.

Linda Quiroga, elementary coordinator of learning and achievement for the district, added, “They are improving and developing their skills by speaking and communication. It also teaches them to work together as a team.”

Parents' proud faces and applause echoed after each performance and some commented on the challenges their children overcame to participate.

“She overcame hip surgery to be here. I’m excited about everything she’s accomplished,” said Sarah Sigala, parent of Grace Sigala, who qualified to go on to the regional competition for the humorous interpretation solo piece.