The bright lights of the historic Merced Theatre shined on students from throughout the Merced City School District during our recent ‘Spotlight’ variety show. This annual event gives groups from all of our 14 elementary and four middle schools a chance to perform for their parents and peers in a venue that makes them feel like superstars!
It’s also an opportunity to showcase the wide range of arts education offered in our schools, which is a priority for our district leaders. They value the way arts programs promote creativity, confidence, and the ability to express oneself as part of a well-rounded curriculum. It’s why we focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) rather than STEM.
I had the honor of serving as emcee for the show, and I loved seeing our students’ excitement as they took center stage. Sheehy Elementary kicked off Act One with a musical tribute to our nation’s military branches. Then Tenaya Middle School’s performing arts club took the audience back in time with a radio-show inspired number called “Dancing through the Decades.” Up next were second graders from Stowell Elementary who performed a traditional Hmong dance. They were followed by the Wright Wildcat Band, which played a trio of songs before members of the Hoover Winter Guard wowed the crowd with their flag and dance skills. The Reyes Honor Choir then sang and signed a song called Spider’s Web, followed by the Muir Elementary Lao Dancers who told a folktale through their movements. Band students from Stefani and Rivera Elementary schools then showed their skills with a song that dates back to the 1500’s. The finale for the first half of the show was the Rivera Middle ‘School of Rock band,’ which brought down the house with Journey’s classic hit, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Act Two also featured a variety of talent, beginning with our elementary band made up of students from Burbank, Gracey, Fremont, Muir, and Peterson. They were followed by a high energy hip hop dance group from Givens Elementary and then the Stefani Stallions String Ensemble. The next group featured students from Franklin Elementary who programmed robots to dance to an electronic song while they played along on bucket drums. Then Burbank Elementary students took the stage to perform a scene from “Hercules the 4th Grade Hero,” which they learned as part of a collaborative program with Playhouse Merced. After that, the Fremont Honor Choir sang “Lights, Camera, Action” from its Hollywood inspired winter musical, and Chenoweth Elementary students performed a patriotic number called “All-American Me and You.” Peterson Elementary was up next with a scene from Playhouse Merced’s “Alice in Neverland.” The Cruickshank Tiger Jazz Band wrapped up the evening with a smooth and skillful rendition of “Uncle Milo’s Slide Show.”
It was a wonderful night thanks to our outstanding students and their supportive families as well as dedicated staff from MCSD and the Merced Theatre. We would like to express our sincere appreciation for everyone who made this event possible and for the teachers who provide engaging and enriching arts education for our students all year long.
Sara Sandrik, an Emmy Award-winning former journalist, is the public information officer for the Merced City School District. She can be reached at email@example.com.