Mantua – Crestwood Primary School was transformed into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory last week, as students celebrated the completion of their annual One Book, One School program. The transformation, based on the 1964 book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, was the culmination of several weeks of study, where teachers and students read the book aloud and immersed themselves in language arts, science, art and music activities based on the beloved story. In Kindergarten, students measured their height in Hershey Kisses® in math, while first graders experimented with candy in science and second-graders analyzed the main characters in language arts.

In case you’ve never read the book or seen the 1971 or 2005 movies that were based on the imaginative tale, the story shares how the owner of a chocolate factory, Willy Wonka, hides five golden tickets in the wrappers of his famous chocolate bars in order to open the doors of his factory to five children and their parents. When families RSVPed to the special evening event, they received their own golden tickets, admitting them to the specially transformed school that night.

When families entered CPS, Willy Wonka welcomed them. He ushered them past a representation of Augustus Gloop, the boy who was sucked into a tube after falling in the hot chocolate river he tried to guzzle. On their way to the evening activities, families enjoyed the artwork in the kindergarten hallway, including candy, Oompa Loompa artwork, and a depiction of Veruca Salt, the ‘bad nut,’ surrounded by the squirrels she demanded to have.

The book was featured throughout the school, not only in décor, but also in the five stations that families experienced throughout the evening. Science experiments were conducted in the art room, modeled after the lab where television lover, Mike Teavee shrank to miniature size. As a much safer alternative, students and their families conducted science experiments with mini marshmallows and miniature candy bars. Families also had the opportunity to make candy-inspired crafts, or to snap their own photos in the library, which held photo booth props and backdrops depicting some of the books memorable characters.

With a nod to Violet Beauregarde’s obsession with bubblegum, the gym was transformed into a theater where the Bubble Lady, Sue Durante, delighted and amazed families with her fun, interactive show. But the high point for most attendees was the Oompa Loompa line dancing, which was held in the cafeteria. Dressed as Oompa Loompas, music teacher Mrs. Gilles, Mrs. Simpson and Mrs. Herr shared some of their best moves as they taught families how to line dance, Wonka-style.

Some students dressed as their favorite characters during the school day, and many kept that magic going by wearing their costumes to the evening program, as well. As families filed from one activity to the next, one parent commented, amazed, “ School wasn’t anything like this when we went!”

It was a magical evening for the 470 people who attended — which was easily double the attendance of previous OBOS programs. “In spite of the fact that our OBOS program grows every year, this was by far, our most well-attended,” gushed Mrs. Grebb. “Mrs. Grebb, along with Mrs. Gilles and a devoted team of excellent, creative people, made the program such a tremendous success,” said  Principal Cindy Ducca. “We do wonderful things with our students during the day, but it’s fun for kids to bring their parents to see the magical things we do at night, too.” After all, according to author Roald Dahl, “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

The PTO and the Principal’s Fund supported the evening’s activities.