Angela Tomasello had a wide smile on her face Friday morning.
The third-grader, along with 300 other students from Williamson Elementary School in Rancho Cordova, huddled inside the cafeteria for one reason - to watch a play that Angela had written.
Her play, "The Trampoline," was part of a series of five short skits performed by B Street Theatre actors at the school.
The performance was the culmination of a 10-week-long literacy program called Fantasy Festival that had students write their own plays for consideration by the theater. Actors visited local schools to provide ideas and nudge the students on.
"When you hear about literacy, people think books," said Jean Irwin Hatfield, literacy chair for Rotary District 5180, which encompasses the greater Sacramento region. "But literacy includes writing, too."
The Rancho Cordova Rotary Club and the University of Phoenix sponsored the program at Williamson and four other schools in Rancho Cordova. Fourteen playwriting workshops were held at schools throughout greater Sacramento.
Angela's play will appear in 10 Northern California counties as the B Street actors put on 148 identical performances through June, most taking place at schools.
On Friday, the Williamson students were giddy as they waited for the performance to start. Angela was honored for her work, taking a deep bow while holding up her shiny trophy.
Soon, the actors came out, strutting their colorful costumes.
"I'm your fairy godparent, Michael," said Russia the fairy.
This was the first scene of "The Trampoline." In the play, Michael asks his new fairy godparent to turn the town into a gigantic trampoline. This causes numerous headaches for the residents, and Michael finds himself isolated.
Eventually, Russia and Michael come together to get rid of the trampoline by wishing for a talking dog that tears the trampoline apart.
When asked how she came up with the idea, Angela replied shyly, "I just wondered what it would feel like to jump on a big trampoline. I thought it was funny."
Students who are not able to read at grade level fall significantly behind starting in fourth grade, Irwin Hatfield said. According to the California Standards Test, only 37 percent of third-graders read at grade level in Sacramento.
At Williamson Elementary School, Principal Andy Smith said, "The need for programs like this is great.
"We're in a race," Smith said, "to make kids literate by third grade."
Call The Bee's Richard Chang, (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.