Bedford CBY Lurgio Talent Show draws 300

Friday, March 29, 2013


Staff Writer

An evening of more than a dozen performances by Ross A. Lurgio Middle School students rivaled in excellence many of the acts seen on national TV shows for singers, dancers and instrumentalists.

The Lurgio’s “Got Talent Show,” hosted by the Coalition for Bedford Youth and CBY@RAL (Ross A. Lurgio) was held in the Bedford High School Theater on March 23.

Principal Edward Joyce and Jack Flanagan, a student representative and one of the 27 performers, shared duty as emcees. An all-volunteer crew of students and helpers from CBY welcomed about 300 spectators.

Elizabeth Eby, a junior at Bedford High and a member of the CBY leadership team, was one of four commentators offering lively critiques of each act. The others on the panel included Maya Ashooh, an eighth-grader at Lurgio, and eighth-grade teachers Geoff Gookin and William Demers, each presented humor, sincerity and spontaneity.

Eby noted that CBY is a student-run community service and leadership organization for students in grades 8-12. The group’s mission is to help young people grow up healthy, caring and responsible.

“I was so impressed by the show, especially because it was completely student-run,” Eby said. “Everyone really stepped up to the plate to put on a great show. I was happy to see such an awesome turnout.”

Catherine Herrick, who teaches health to students in grades 7 and 8, and her husband, Rob, who while working on his master’s in exercise science has taken on substitute teaching, concurred.

Catherine was one of the original CBY members at Lurgio. She has since 1998 worked with the group, helping to teach students valuable life skills that are assets in their development. Some of the assets are constructive use of time, commitment to learning and the building of a positive identity.

“It’s a great group, accepting of everyone,” Catherine said of CBY. “We meet bi-weekly. It’s a very fluid group. There are all kinds of students involved – band, theater, sports.”

A full roster of acts that evening was launched with a martial arts demonstration by a group of eighth- and ninth-grade students including Ashley Truver, Jen Barbuto, Alek Davis, Ashley Johnston and Jamie Siegart. They study at Master An’s Tae Kwon Do in Bedford. Seventh-graders Jordan Hall and Lauren Labonte then sang “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn. Ben Bostock, another seventh-grader, followed with acoustic guitar renderings.

Jill Tokac then was applauded for singing “Sweeter,” by Gavin DeGraw. Soon after, a trio of eighth-graders – Alexa Rainey, Allison Clarke and Nikkie Charron – took center stage and danced to “Brokenhearted,” by Karmin. The incorporation of gymnastic flips, backbends and leaps drew a thunderous applause.

Eighth-grader Shasha Neefe and her guitar were spotlighted as she played “Red Right Ankle,” by the Decemberists. Sara Howell, a seventh-grader, then sang “Dynamite,” by Taio Cruz.

Howell, 13, said walking out on stage and looking into an audience of hundreds of people is not always an easy thing to do. She has been singing since second grade and welcomed a chance to perform at the event.

“I compare being on stage to being in front of the class when I’m giving a report,” Howell said. “This was a chance to show what I’m good at.”

An intermission gave folks a chance to purchase brownies, chilled bottles of water and other snacks from a concession stand in the lobby. Among the helpers there were seventh-graders Carter Marquis and Antonio Pastor, the volunteer author of a monthly column published in The Bedford Journal. The crowd took the break immediately after a solo by Lurgio science teacher Julia Fine, who sang and played guitar.

The pause for refreshments was soon finished and a quintet called The Wedding Singers took the stage. The Wedding Singers include eighth-grader Jack Flanagan, eighth-grader Mitchel Roy, sixth-grader Tommy Mailhot, eighth-grader Danny Mullen and eighth-grade student Conner Collins, a skilled pianist. They performed “Love Stinks,” a rousing melody that had the crowd laughing and clapping.

Eighth-graders Alexis Davis and Kendall Karolian then sang “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan. Tiffany Rzepka played “The Entertainer,” a tune by Scott Joplin, on the piano. Shaylyn Kelly and Taylor Wilson almost outdid renowned artist Adele in their version of “Skyfall,” the newest James Bond theme.

The house went wild after guitarist Lubomir Rzepka, an eighth-grade student, played “Ocean” by John Butler. He used the guitar as if it were more than one instrument – plucking it, drumming on it, slapping it and taking both of his hands far up the guitar’s neck to bring out unique sounds in rhythms ranging from slow to warp speed.

One judge called him a “guitar god.” Another commentator said he would gladly pay $50 to hear him (in concert). The guitarist, age 14, an eighth grader, was later asked how he liked being called a “guitar god.” He modestly replied, “I prefer genie.”

Natalia Torcia, singing “Thousand Years,” by Cristina Perri, and Carolyn Porter, singing “Think of Me,” from Phantom of the Opera, rounded out the evening and won long rounds of applause before the last act was presented.

Ultimately, the grand finale was performed by Jon Donahue, 13, an eighth-grader who donned dark glasses and revved up the beat with his dance act, one that showed him popping and locking while flashes of electric-blue lights punctuated a music mix with overtones of a Jamaican flavor. The audience was blown away, as they say in show biz.

“I watched YouTube to learn how to do this dance style,” Jon said. “I got the feel of it and practiced by myself. Once I saw it was good, I showed my family.”

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