During the Jan. 29-Feb. 4 celebration of Catholic Schools Week two Catholic schools in Ontario County each found a way to showcase an attribute of their respective students — talent.
Forty-four students took part in a Jan. 30 talent show at St. Mary School in Canandaigua, while more than 60 students from St. Francis DeSales-St. Stephen School in Geneva participated in a Feb. 1 talent show at DeSales High School.
The Canandaigua show opened with a blast from the past as kindergartners Emily McMullen and Sarah Neubecker, first-graders Aldyn Savage and Ashley Brocklebank, and second-grader Emily Neubecker performed a dance to the theme music from the 1984 movie “Ghostbusters.” The show’s finale was a rousing rendition of the song “Calendar Girls,” performed by a dozen girls in sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
The “Calendar Girls” performance opened with a video clip of the girls performing the same song during the talent show held in 2000. In the clip, each girl wore a costume representing a month of the year. When the clip ended, the song started again and the noticeably taller girls came on stage, once again dressed as Santa, the Easter Bunny and the like.
In between the “Ghostbusters” and “Calendar Girls” performances, St. Mary’s students took the stage, individually or in groups, to sing, dance, tell jokes, read poems, and play the piano, violin and guitar.
Second-grader Spencer Wech has taken karate lessons for three years and showcased what he has learned. Techno music pumped in the background as he performed a choreographed routine of kicks, blocks and chops. For his finale, Spencer leapt over a student crouched on the floor and broke a wooden board in half on his way down.
Seventh-grader Molly Norris sang during the show, something she’s waited to do for years. She remembers as a younger student watching others sing in the talent show, but the show hasn’t been held for the past four or five years, she said. When she heard the school was reinstituting the show this year, she jumped at the chance to perform.
“I just really wanted to do it. I’ve wanted to ever since I was little,” Molly said. “I’ve kind of been practicing my act for a long time.”
Although the talent show is fun, it also has a greater purpose, Molly said.
“It shows the people that you can do something and that everyone has a special talent,” she said.
Indeed, every student has God-given talents, and Catholic Schools Week seemed like an ideal time to highlight them, said physical-education teacher Wendy Cowan, the show’s coordinator.
After watching the show, a number of students who did not participate this year said they would definitely plan on doing so next year, including fourth-grader Angela Mowry.
“I learned that everyone has different talents,” said Angela, who wants to be an actress when she grows up.
Two days after St. Mary’s show, St. Francis DeSales-St. Stephen’s students learned a similar lesson. Talent shows give students the chance to see what their fellow students’ skills and talents are, said sixth-grader Sara Duchesne. Dance is one of Sara’s talents, and she performed a dance from “Chicago,” which is one of her favorite movies.
Fellow sixth-grader Ashley Harling loves to sing and hear people clapping for her, and she was able to do both when she performed Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up.”
“I think it’s good for the kids to get a chance to sing and be in front of people,” Ashley said.
Fifth-grader Braedy Maher also enjoyed the applause she heard after she and her “best friend forever” — fellow fifth-grader Shelby Bradley — finished their performance of “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better.” Braedy and Shelby spent about a month memorizing their lines and dressed like twins for the show. Although they acted like rivals during the show, nothing could be further from the truth, Braedy said.
“It wasn’t true. We were just acting,” she said.
Second-grader Monica DiDuro and her sister, third-grader Erica, put together a special gymnastics routine for the show. Although they said they don’t always get along very well, they enjoyed performing together and both enjoy gymnastics.
Twin sisters Michelle and Christina Nardozzi, who are in third grade, have been on the Geneva Junior Cheerleading Team for two years and showed off their dance and cheering skills. Sixth-grader Sierra Schaubert and her brothers, fourth-grader Dalton and third-grader Triston, displayed their martial-arts skills while “Eye of the Tiger” played in the background.
Third-grader Jenna Caster opened the show with the national anthem. Although she loves to sing, she’s never had any formal training, she said.
“I don’t take singing lessons, but I like to listen to CDs,” said Jenna, who was nervous at first but eventually overcame her fears. “I just pretended that I was just practicing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.'”
Other students played the keyboard and violin, juggled, sang and danced, and the school’s second-grade recorder band, elementary band and advanced band each gave performances. The show was coordinated by Jeanette Hernandez, who teaches art, Spanish and humanities at the school.
Her students participate in a lot of activities outside of school and often invite her to attend their recitals and performances, she said. After attending several of these events, Hernandez realized what a tremendous amount of talent her students possess. These students and their families invested their time and resources into cultivating these talents, so it only seemed right for the school to provide an opportunity for them to show them off.
“Kids can not only show off their talents. They also get to show off their personalities,” Jenna said.