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West Ranch Idol gives back, too

Proceeds from the competition help Yes I Can program.

Posted: May 2, 2008 12:50 a.m.
Updated: July 1, 2008 5:02 a.m.

From left are health teacher Terri Sage, Spanish teacher Holly Martin, Yvonne Harper, and history teacher Danielle Lahey. They danced to "Feedback" by Janet Jackson at the benefit performance for the Yes I Can program.

Forget American Idol - West Ranch High School has enough talent to host its own musical competition and raise money for a good cause at the same time.

Wildcat Idol took place Thursday in the school gymnasium with proceeds benefiting the Yes I Can program, which is a class that pairs students with Asperger's Syndrome with their general education peers.

Before the show started, guests waited anxiously while being served food from El Cholo and Barn Burner barbecues, donated by Blair Salisbury. In between outstanding performances from each singer, silent auctions were held featuring autographed sports memorabilia and American Idol items, as well as gift cards to various stores at Westfield Valencia Town Center.

During the evening, 10 groups made up of students and staff members sang and competed to win a record demo.

One of the biggest hits was presented by a group of staff members. Holly Martin, who teaches Spanish; Danielle Lahey, who teaches history; Terri Sage, health teacher; and Yvonne Harper danced to "Feedback"
by Janet Jackson.

"It only took us one day - we learned it yesterday," Martin said.

"Our major influence is definitely Janet Jackson," Lahey added. "I try to channel Janet Jackson on the TV all the time."

Harper, who came up with the dance, said that she "just listened to the music. And whatever I felt, I just choreographed it. It just comes to me."

The West Ranch Hip Hop team, dressed in red with knee-high socks, dramatized the showcase even further.

The team danced to "Shawty Get Loose" by Lil Mama, "Get Bucked in Here" by Akon, and "Move Shake Drop" by Pitbull and DJ Laz. Kenichi Lee, a junior at West Ranch, said that the team "usually practices once a week for about two hours, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m."

"I think we did a good job. I hope everybody enjoyed it," said Aina Abad, also a junior.

The last performer for the show was senior Jahruba Atkinson, who sang and danced to "Stronger" by Kanye West. Atkinson was accompanied by two back-up dancers, Heidi Ro and Michelle Sarmiento, who are from the Hip Hop team.

"I loved performing in front of the crowd. It's amazing. It's what I live for. It was so much fun - the energy, it was awesome," Atkinson said. The main reason Atkinson sang and danced was to help the students with Asperger's Syndrome, rather than to win the record demo, he added.

"The reason why I picked this song was because the foundation that is being benefited is Yes I Can, and the song ‘Stronger' by Kanye West gave a clear message to these kids that they should walk around with a smile on their faces no matter what, and I think that's a very beautiful thing," Atkinson said.

After Atkinson performed, the judges deliberated on the following finalists: Danny Berestevoy performing as "Danny B.;" Lauren Jones; and Kelsey Pritsker. To win the record demo, each of them had to sing a random song impromptu, and all three of the singers gave an unbelievably powerful vibe throughout the crowd.

In the end, junior Berestevoy was announced the Wildcat Idol winner. The unrehearsed song that he had to sing was "Revolution" by The Beatles.

"It was a little nerve-wracking at first, but once I got on-stage, I just felt comfortable," Berestevoy said. " It was all good and I just did my thing." His prize was a record demo and a gift certificate to the mall.

As the concert came to an end and audience was getting up to leave, junior Christina Lee gushed to her friend, "Let's sing together next year! We should sing a Hannah Montana song and we could so win."

Esther Lim is a freshman journalism student at West Ranch High School.


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