Pounding percussion, harmonious voices, and clashing fencing sabers could be heard at the Student Education Association’s (SEA) third annual Talent Show in the practice gym in the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center (ARC) on the evening of Nov. 4.
For the past three years, the SEA Talent Show has collected donations of school supplies and money to benefit school children in The Gambia. SEA co-presidents Melissa Ridpath and Laura Koler, both juniors, were happy to report that $111 was raised by this year’s talent show. “Every year, the St. Mary’s community sends enough money to pay tuition for at least three students. So far this year, we’ve raised over $400, which sends almost seven students to school,” said Ridpath and Koler.
This year’s talent show featured performances from student groups such as the SMC-Men, The Nightingale A Cappella (TNA), InterChorus, the St. Mary’s Step Team, and the Fencing Club, but the special guests of the night were the members of the Rhythm Club from Spring Ridge Middle School in Lexington Park, MD.
“We had to contact local schools in the area to see if they would be interested in performing,” said Ridpath, “and we heard back from Spring Ridge’s Rhythm Club. This is an after-school program for students in grades six through eight. All students must have a GPA of 3.5 or above in order to be a member.”
To warm up before the show, all of the performing groups “participated in some ice breakers to get to know each other, [along with] the Spring Ridge students,” said Ridpath. The performers’ relaxed attitudes and infectious spirits seemed evident in every performance.
The Rhythm Club performed six times during the course of the show. The enthusiastic students assembled their instruments, which consisted of overturned green plastic buckets, which sounded like typical snare drums, and gray storage tubs, which provided bass percussion to the performance. A row of bucket-players tapped away on the tops of their buckets with blue and yellow striped drumsticks while the tub-players kneeled behind their tubs and slapped them in a beat that blended with the one played on the buckets.
The Club’s later performances also included dancing, acrobatic flips, and the school’s chicken mascot, who challenged the two dancing students to a dance-off. The students’ impressive percussion skills were matched by their dedication to their club and their eagerness to perform.
“We work three times a week for two hours a day,” said eighth grader and Rhythm Club co-captain Julian Gross. The other co-captain, eighth grader Xander Kraus, was pleased with the result. “I’m glad we could perform for people older than us,” he said, “because we’re small, but we want to show the students who are older than us that we have skills.”
InterChorus, SMCM’s co-ed a-capella group, performed classics like The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” and newer songs like Jessie J’s “Pricetag” and Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory.” Then TNA, the all-female a-capella group, sang 80s tunes like Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” and Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time,” as well as Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated.”
In between the a-capella performances, the St. Mary’s Step Team performed a rousing rhythmic number, in which the steppers’ stomps and claps created an all-percussion sound similar to that of the Rhythm Club.
The SMC-Men, SMCM’s all-male a-capella group, stole the spotlight next with their peppy renditions of Spin Doctors’ “Pretty Baby,” The Drifters’ “Up on the Roof,” and Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl.” The Spring Ridge students clapped and bounced along to all of the a-capella performances in support of their new friends.
The Fencing Club spoofed traditional perceptions of sword-fighting by staging an over-dramatic sword fight set to music from “The Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. After explaining that this was not real fencing, two fencers demonstrated what a real fencing session would look like. It’s a calculated and strategic sport rather than swing-and-miss swashbuckling.
Two Spring Ridge students were then brought up in full fencing gear to try their hands at the sport. After five intense rounds, during which both students were cheered on by audience members on opposing sides of the gym, the winner was sixth grader Leah Gough, who said, “I would do it again!”
The SEA Talent Show 2011 was successful in all of its goals: helping Gambian children receive an education, bringing local students together, and staging entertaining performances.