McNeil students strut their stuff at talent show

  • Ethan Styvar, “Harmonica Tunes” -Photo by McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News
  • Lucas Story plays “The Kangaroo that almost Flew”-Photo by McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News
  • Rebecca Trowbridge puts her heart into a dance performance to “The Story of My Life,” a song by the English-Irish boy band One Direction.-Photo by McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News
  • Clockwise, from left: Alayna Walker, Lauren Allen and Sailey Rhodes pour some energy into their dance routine.-Photo by McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News
  • Musicians Phin Weston and Clayton Beachy play “Bells Medley”-Photo by McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News
  • Ireland Styvar performs her “Hula Hoop Magic” routine.-Photo by McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

There’s a lot to be said about the magic that happens when performers hear the roar of the greasepaint and inhale the smell of the crowd. First, however, there’s getting past your classmates, as students at McNeil Canyon Elementary School had to do Feb. 20.

A day before performing in front of family and friends, students at the kindergarten- through sixth-grade school slipped into their dance shoes, tried out their costumes, propped up their piano music, went through their props and adjusted the microphone under the watchful eye and with suggestions from co-directors Kathy Beachy and Joy Overson.

Sailey Rhodes and Zoe Stonorov broke the ice with a song and dance tribute, complete with wings, to the school’s dragon mascot, “What Does the Dragon Say?” The eager applause from other performers waiting their turn and from the parent volunteers helping with the production, warmed the air as Lucas Story took over the piano with “The Kangaroo That Almost Flew.”

From there, the students belted out harmonica solos, sang and played on the piano the theme songs to movies, displayed their musical expertise on other instruments, spun a hula hoop with amazing dexterity, hoofed their way through an impressive variety of dance routines, acted out poems and amazed with their acrobatic abilities.

The rehearsal was an opportunity for the students to tweak their routines here and there, to rethink where their props should be placed, to establish cues with the stagehands. Their proud smiles, thought-out routines and concern about detail reflected the title of the song to which Rebecca Trowbridge gave a from-the-heart performance, “The Story of My Life.”

All the youngsters’ work paid off at the show the following night.

“It was a smashing success,” said Beachy. “I always get nervous because they show up (at rehearsal) and don’t have music, don’t have a plan, haven’t really practiced. And then they come with their costumes and music and it’s fantastic.”

The talent show is a long-standing tradition at McNeil.

“This is such an arts school anyway, with visual and drama and music. (The talent show) is a great opportunity for them to perform,” said Beachy. “I know they look forward to it. I have kids asking me around Christmas time, ‘When is the talent show going to be?’”

Assisting the students also is “a great opportunity for families to be involved,” said Beachy.

The event doubles as a fundraiser for the school, with homemade pies on the auction block. Principal Pete Swanson encourages the bidding by baking a pie on site “so at intermission you can smell the apple pie,” said Beachy.

This year’s auction raised more than $2,500, which will be used to fund special activities at the school.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at  


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