Ask any of the 150-plus students in grades 3-12 from Newark Central School District who participated in the recent touring group performance workshop by The Young Americans, and they will say it was an experience they won’t likely forget.
Newark High School vocal music teacher Kate Flock, who organized the “Turn Up The Music” workshop, said the experience for the 260 students who participated from Newark, Lyons, Clyde-Savannah, Sodus Central and North Rose-Wolcott school districts was “fantastic.”
“The kids love it,” she said. “It’s fast-paced and high energy, and life-changing for many who haven’t participated in a Young Americans workshop before. Many of these kids are connecting for the first time with music, arts, dancing and performance. They kind of put themselves out there for the first time, and it’s filled with emotion and exciting.”
The recent workshop marks the seventh time in the last 21 years that the national and international touring group hosted performance workshops at NHS for hundreds of students in grades 3-12 students from Newark and other Wayne County schools.
Founded in 1962, The Young Americans is dedicated to the promotion of understanding and goodwill among people throughout the world through music, dance, performance, academic education and cultural interaction among student members and their audiences.
Students are accepted into the organization based on their talent and interest in helping other students throughout America and the world attain self-confidence, self-esteem and respect for others through music, dance and performance.
Several NHS and Wayne County high school graduates have become members of The Young Americans as a result of the workshops held in Newark.
This year’s event culminated with a two-hour evening show to a packed house of nearly 1,000. Flock said there wasn’t an empty seat in the NHS Auditorium.
The first hour featured the YA cast. The second hour featured the students as they performed with the tour group. Once the 45 YA performers started working with area students, Flock said they followed a strict schedule of workshops and rehearsals until the performance. She said she has heard nothing but positives from participating students and their parents about this latest outreach tour stop.
“So many are thankful for the experience, and want to do it again,’’ she said.
NHS senior Lauren Santino participated in YA performance workshops for five terms. Flock said it’s a lot of work to set up the performance tour locally, but well worth the effort.
“It’s so worth it when you see the kids, parents and audience members’ responses, and some of the parents are seeing their kids perhaps in a new light, and it’s so rewarding,’’ Flock said. “One of the audience members said it was the best performance she’s ever seen at Newark High School.’’
The Young Americans organizes registration, and partners with Country Music Television to offer $20 scholarships to students who want to participate but can’t afford the full $59 fee; 20 Newark students received scholarships this year.
“We are so fortunate at Newark Central to host The Young Americans and be on their tour rotation every three years,” said Cindy Briggs, instrumental music teacher and K-12 music department leader at Kelley School. “Kate Flock put in many hours of organization to put together an amazing three days of learning for over 250 Wayne County students. To watch these Young Americans work with our students and put on a show of such magnitude is amazing. Special thanks to our community members for hosting these young performers in their homes for four nights.”
Flock said five parents and community members opened their homes to performers, providing lodging, breakfast and packed lunches. The cast was fed at the NHS open house pasta dinner, and Emily Howard organized additional meals provided by host parents and others.
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