DENVER - Denver is home to the largest student Shakespeare festival in the country. It attracts more than 5,000 students from 78 schools, including Henry World School.
The middle school students from Henry are led by a volunteer the students affectionately refer to as Grandma.
"I am kind of the mean grandma once in a while," laughs volunteer Jerri Wood.
Wood is a retired registered nurse with a reputation for running a tight ship. She is constantly pleading with the students to talk louder and clearer as they perform Shakespeare's plays. In time, the kids learn Wood's intensity is for their own good.
"She yells because she wants us to do our best," said Summer Pilling, an eighth grade student.
"The yelling is just to make sure we are ready and it is nice to come down here and put a smile on her face when she sees how hard we worked and how good we are," said Ryan Hallinan, who is in seventh grade.
"I think she is really cool. I think she is a cool grandma," adds Maia Morrissey, a sixth grade student.
The effort to get the students ready for the spring Shakespeare festival is a yearlong effort.
"You just start rehearsing them and finding costumes, and start rehearsing and sewing, and rehearsing and sewing, and rehearsing and sewing," said Wood.
Wood says she spends a couple of hundred hours a year sewing the costumes for the kids. She buys all the material out of her own pocket.
Wood has done this for eight years for the love of Shakespeare and the students.
"They are beautiful kids. And if they have beautiful costumes they do a beautiful job," said Wood.
Shakespeare could not have said it better.
To learn more about the annual Denver Public School Shakespeare festival go to http://shakespeare.Dpsk12.Org