ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Unity through diversity was the focus of a play presented by the Child, Youth and School Services SKIES Unlimited program at the Aberdeen Area Youth Center Dec. 4.

The play, "The Tortoise and the Hare: The Greatest Race," told the story of the annual race between the brown mammals and green reptiles who never mingle, and how they came together to solve a crisis despite their differences.

The show was a production of the Missoula Children's Theatre, a touring nonprofit organization that fosters developmental life skills for children in communities nationwide.

Aberdeen Proving Ground is the second phase of installations hosting these shows, according to CYSS director Ruth Strauss.

She credited Stacey Umbarger for heading up the project with SKIES.

"These are all school-age children who participate in SKIES," Strauss said. "They did it all with only one week of practice. We didn't realize our kids were that talented. Hopefully, [the Missoula
Children's Theatre] can come out to do another show."

Dusharne Sparks played the overconfident hare who was chosen by his fellow mammals to run the race. Emily Karlewicz of the Missoula Children's Theatre played the old tortoise and Evan Karlewicz portrayed the news reporter covering the race.

When a tiny bunny is lost in a nearby gulch during the race, the mammals and reptiles forget their differences and unite in the search. In the end, the animals realize the folly of their ways and live happily ever after.

The cast of characters included reptiles Sanoe Marsh, Toni Lee Roberts, Marc Vogelhut, Joel
Barnes and Sean Valentine. Mammals were played by Graciela Rodriguez, Jasmine Boyington, Isabele Avina, Erykah Tisdale, Aaliyah Tisdale, Malcolm Whitehurst and Javon Scott.

Members of the Curly Hare Junior Fan Club included Nia Webb, Angeliz Rosado-Torres, Chris Marsh, Quianna Numa, Justin Styles, Madison Whitehurst, Annabelle Elliott, Keshawn Gardner
and Saliyah Ragin.

Sixty-five thousand children in 1,200 communities in 50 states and 17 countries participated in the Missoula Children's Theatre this year. For more information, visit www.mctinc.org.