The day before the start of a five-day Thanksgiving break, Ellison High School drama students provided theatrical suggestions for combating the lulls that come with boredom.

A group of 22 theater students traveled Tuesday to four Killeen ISD elementary schools to perform three plays adapted from popular fiction.

One of those — “The Phantom Tollbooth” — focused on a bored youth who pushed the red button on a magic tollbooth, transporting him on an adventure through “the doldrums” to arrive at “the land of wisdom.”

Ellison senior Josh Hancock, the star “Milo,” said the play attempted to teach children there are positive things to do when they get bored.

“It teaches them to remember their numbers and words and to manage their time well — also to always have extra pants,” he said, quoting the script, with its touches of humor.

“It’s different,” Hancock said of visiting elementary schools outside the confines of the high school auditorium. “They seem more relaxed and they really get involved.”

Lauren Ponce, playing the role of the tollbooth and also an adventure guide named “Humbug,” agreed the experience of traveling theater was an exciting one.

“It’s really fun coming to the elementary schools,” she said. “As long as we’re making a difference, it’s worth it.”

She explained that Milo found in the land of “Dictionopolis” that he wasn’t using his brain and that he needed to rescue the princesses “Rhyme” and “Reason” and return them to the “Land of Wisdom.”

Along the way, he had to pass through “the cliffs of ignorance” and the temptation to nap and lounge in “the Doldrums.”

The Ellison group performed at Reeces Creek, Bellaire, Nolanville and West Ward elementary schools. They also performed adaptations of the “Magic Treehouse,” teaching the joy and excitement of reading and “Seven Blind Mice,” about working as a team to come up with big ideas.

Krysta Lyssy, Ellison theater director, said the group’s outreach to the elementary schools exposed younger students to drama and the high school students to the flexibility required to perform on the road.

“We’re trying to inspire children to appreciate theater and maybe to participate in it,” said Ellison senior Malory Pacheco, who played “Tock” the watchdog.

Pacheco said it was a full-circle moment for her.

“This is something I always wanted to do, really a dream come true,” she said, “because I remember high school students coming to my elementary school.”

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