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September 1, 2014

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Chaparral students on cloud nine at ‘Le Reve’ performance

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Leila Navidi

Chaparral High School students pose for a photo with the cast of Le Reve - The Dream before attending the show at Wynn Las Vegas on Tuesday, June 5, 2012.

Chaparral Students at 'Le Reve'

Chaparral High School students pose for photos with the cast of Le Reve - The Dream before attending the show at Wynn Las Vegas on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Call it a dream come true.

Nearly 100 Chaparral High School students and teachers were treated to a free "Le Reve" show Tuesday night, courtesy of Wynn Las Vegas.

For many of these students at the “turnaround” high school, the experience of watching a Cirque du Soleil-esque show on a school night was surreal, said Principal Dave Wilson.

“The neat thing about Chaparral is that the students are not entitled,” he said. “For most kids, this is their first show on the Strip. For them, this is unique, special, memorable.”

Last month — during Teacher Appreciation Week — the cast of "Le Reve" surprised the Chaparral students and teachers with tickets to their show. Cast members said they were moved by the “turnaround” school’s efforts to improve, despite its challenges.

Not surprisingly, the troupe of swimming acrobats said they were especially impressed with the students and teachers in Chaparral’s music, theater and swim groups.

Some of the theater students had never set foot onstage before this year, said Jeff English, a math teacher who helped direct Chaparral’s production of “Seussical” in February.

Some of the more affluent schools in the Clark County School District have large theater groups with more resources and experience. But that didn’t matter to these Chaparral students, English said.

English and his theater students spent six weeks preparing for the show, rehearsing every weeknight and even Saturdays. English estimates they spent more than 120 hours prepping for their performances.

The hard work paid off. The positive feedback from the community was worth it, English said.

Click to enlarge photo

Chaparral High School principal Dave Wilson gets a hug from junior Jazzmin Jones, 17, before seeing Le Reve - The Dream at Wynn Las Vegas on Tuesday, June 5, 2012.

“The students put a lot of effort into it, so we appreciate when we get a compliment,” he said. “It’s nice to be recognized.”

Wendy Holsclaw, the coach of Chaparral’s fledgling swim team, said she was also grateful for the recognition bestowed on her students.

While some high schools have 50 swimmers on their teams, Chaparral has but five boys and 18 girls on its teams. That places the school at a disadvantage in team competition, Holsclaw said.

Some swimmers also struggled to find the money to pay for the $20 physical and $67 health insurance policy to participate in after-school athletics, Holsclaw said.

But the team focused not on winning tournaments but building teamwork and a sense of family, she said. That’s what makes Chaparral a winning team, she said.

As Holsclaw looked out at the sea of students snapping shots before the show, the coach smiled.

“I have the best kids in the world,” she said. “They’re on cloud nine right now.”

The students oohed and ahhed during the show, pointing at the soaring acrobats and uttering interjections when a cast member dove from the ceiling into the deep 1-million-gallon pool.

After the show, the students clapped enthusiastically. Some even gave a standing ovation.

“It was so breathtaking,” said Chaparral senior Ember Currington, who plans to go to CSN next fall. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

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