Members of a local youth group lit up the stage at Love Elementary School.
On Friday, the Emmanuel Baptist Church hosted its first talent show at the school, in which about 15 members of its youth group displayed their musical and dancing abilities.
The show was organized by Sue Blake, a member of Emmanuel Baptist. According to Blake, the show was intended to be a showcase of the participants' talents in a no-pressure environment.
Participants of the Emmanuel Baptist Church youth group’s first ever talent show pose before show time at Love Elementary School. Pictured above: Izonna Austin, Toreion Leeper, D’yavion Rosario, Madison Walker-Blake, Maya Larson, Rhiannon Bogardus, Chris Larson, Ozion Rosario, Da’ Mani Blake and Da’ Mier Williams.
"This is our first time, and it's with our youth group," she said. "We come to Love school every third friday for open gym, and it's normally open for our middle school and high school kids. But tonight, we thought we'd do something like a little variety show for some of the younger and older kids. (It's) just to participate. It's not so much a talent show, it's just the kids getting up there and having fun. They're not being judged, we're not trying to critique them or anything it's just fun. It gives them the opportunity just to be able to do something and show their talents."
She added: "The kids are excited. (For) some of the kids, this is their first year playing instruments. So this just gives them that opportunity to stand up there in front of people and do things, and it builds up their self-esteem."
The show included a variety of musical styles and instruments, including: solos on guitar, violin, trombone and xylophone; a poetry reading; the Leeper 5, which performed a parody of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back"; a rhythmic demonstration using stacked cups on a table; and an African drum duo.
The Emmanuel Baptist Church has a long-standing relationship with Love Elementary School, visiting on the third Friday of every month for open gym. Blake said that this relationship is what allowed Emmanuel Baptist to utilize the school for its show.
"Love school has been really great with us," she said. "We have the open gym, (the kids) can use the exercise machines, we play basketball and soccer. We can use any of the gym equipment that we want (to). They allow us to come up and there's no problem. We are welcome (at Love) and they make us feel welcome."
According to Blake, she intends to make the talent show an annual or semi-annual event. As for the timing, Blake said that she chose to host the first show in February for a reason.
"We wanted to do something different for Black History month," she said. "We want to do this once or twice a year, and every February."
The participants of the talent show included: Da' Mani Blake, Rhiannon Bogardus, Madison Walker-Blake, Da' Mier Williams, China Kinney, Izonna Austin, D'yavion Rosario, Toreion Leeper, Ozion Rosario, Stephanie Walker, Karinah Walker-Alicea, Kaidynce Walker-Alicea, Karlee Rock, Maya Larson, Chris Larson and Rich Schuller.
In the coming weeks, Emmanuel Baptist will continue celebrating Black History month by inviting Adrian Cooper, a descendant of Harriet Tubman, to speak about his genealogy on Feb. 19. The church will also be hosting an ethnic dinner on Feb. 26, which will display cultural foods from the different nationalities represented in the Emmanuel Baptist congregation.
"At the end of Black History month, everybody comes together and brings a dish to pass of whatever ethnic dish they have," said Blake. "We have so many different (ethnicities) in our kid's group Italian, African-American, Hispanic, Indian, white and the list goes on. Everybody brings a dish from their cultural background, and it's really neat. You have all these different foods to pick from, and everybody is welcome to come."