Award-winning children's entertainer Don Monopoli of The Learning Station will be the featured entertainer at the 12th annual South Mississippi Children's Concert, an event aimed at connecting children and families through contemporary, interactive music.
This year's concert, which is a collaboration between the Petal Education Foundation and The Coleman Center, will be held at 10:15 a.m. February 12 at the Petal Performing Arts Center, adjacent to Petal High School on Mississippi 42.
"For the most part, every bit of it is participatory - the whole concert is," said Leahne Lightsey, executive director of the Petal Education Foundation. "Either you're resting a little bit after you've been jumping and moving around and doing the movements to the song, or you've kind of been brought up to a very active level and then (Monopoli) brings the children back down. And he does that through the course of the concert; it's very age-appropriate.
"It's a really good field trip (for the kids), and this is also the sole fundraiser for Petal Excel By 5."
Monopoli is known for his lively, interactive concerts that celebrate childhood and promote family values with popular songs. As part of The Learning Company, he has performed at Walt Disney World, the United States Capitol, the Special Olympics and Arnold Palmer's Children's Hospital, among other well-known events.
"(The concert) is kind of across the curriculum, too," Lightsey said. "They're either going to teach things like language and literacy, maybe math and numbers, so it's all a learning situation.
"It's a great, fun way to learn, and it's an excellent program."
The Learning Station is made up of Don Monopoli, his wife Laurie Monopoli, and their friend Jan Hrkach. The three performers, who have combined backgrounds and degrees in early childhood education, child development and music, have a collection of 31 award-winning audio and video releases and have published more than 400 songs that are part of education curriculum worldwide.
Monopoli will have teaching and learning materials, such as CDs and DVDs, for sale at the concert.
"We're very excited," Lightsey said. "Don has been here three times already, and he is a great guy. We love him every time he comes."
The concert is open to the public, but coordinators are asked to call by February 7 to reserve the proper number of seats for school groups. Reservations - which are required for groups of 10 or more - can be made by calling (601) 545-3002 or by emailing email@example.com. Checks should be made payable to the Petal Education Foundation.
The cost of admission for the concert is $6 per person, and tickets can be purchased at the ticket booth the day of the concert or at the Petal School District Central Office at 115 East Central Avenue. Teachers with official school identification badges will be admitted free of charge. All funds raised will go to the Petal Education Foundation to support early childhood education in the Petal Community.
"We're quickly approaching being sold out, so that tells me that schools and pre-schools and parents want this kind of thing," Lightsey said.