QC Penguin Project performs “High School Musical”


The script for this year’s Penguin Project show.

Katy Babcock, Copy Editor

The Quad Cities Penguin Project proudly announces the production of Disney’s High School Musical Jr. This year’s performance will take place on the main stage in the Brunner Theatre at Augustana College.  The performance dates are Jan. 27 at 7:30 pm; Jan. 28 at 7:30 pm; and Jan. 29 at 1:30 pm.  

The Penguin Project began in 2004 in Peoria with the vision of Dr. Andy Morgan and his wife Kathy Morgan.  It was designed to offer students, from ages 10 to 21, with special needs the opportunity of performing live theater. Mentors support these artists throughout the audition, rehearsal and performance process. 

The motto of the project: “Our penguins may not be able to fly, but that does not prevent their spirits from soaring.

This project is now nationwide, and the Quad Cities Penguin Project chapter is in its sixth year.  

PV graduate Benjamin Russman has participated in five of the six shows and is currently cast as Ryan Evans in High School Musical Jr. He appreciates the learning opportunities that Penguin Project has provided him. “One of my favorite parts is learning choreography because it’s a good challenge,” said Russman. 

This motto of the program allows people with special abilities to be a part of something where they are the stars who soar.  

The Quad Cities Penguin Project is led by executive director Jeff Coussens and executive producers Tina and Dino Hayz. Coussens is the professor and chair of the Augustana College theater department. The Hayzes own and operate the Center for Living Arts in Rock Island, where Penguin Project rehearsals take place. 

Dino and Tina provide an environment where the interaction between the special needs “artists” and their age-level “mentors” can flourish and become friends outside of this beautiful program. 

Pleasant Valley freshman Lauren Bock was a Penguin Project mentor for two years and cherished her time in the program. “Other than growing a friendship with my artist, my favorite part was knowing that I was making an impact on [my artist’s] life,” said Bock. 

A record number of Pleasant Valley students have been involved in the QC Penguin Project since its inception in 2016. Disney’s High School Musical Jr. is no exception this year, with seven current and former PV students participating.  

“It’s amazing to perform and have fun with my classmates outside of school, ” continued Russman. 

Please come and support the incredible PV Penguin artists and mentors that worked tirelessly on this show!