Spotlighting students’ talents to help others in need is a win-win situation for students, staff and leaders at South Charlotte Middle School.
Their efforts also were a win this year for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, as the school raised more than $830 through its annual school-wide talent show. The foundation’s mission is to grant the wishes of children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions.
“The talent show is something that students can get involved with that are not part of student council,” Robert Johnson, student council advisor at the school, said. “It raises funds for a bigger cause, and students can still have fun.”
It’s the third or fourth year the school has hosted a talent show, Johnson said, the second year the school has supported Make-A-Wish and the first year the show was moved to before spring break. A record of 65 students, sixth through eighth grade, auditioned for this year’s show, Johnson said, but only 22 made the cut. The school brought in three local judges, including Carolina Talent agency director Marc Soper, south Charlotte-based Acting Out Studios founder Kamber Hejlik and Laura Blaha, Make-A-Wish Foundation Charlotte development coordinator. This year’s overall winner, eighth-grader Marina Faillace, sang “Dark Horse,” receiving an all-around perfect score, Johnson said. Second place winner was sixth-grader Katherine Balas, who sang “Forget You,” and third place winner was seventh-grader Briana Collins, who sang “All of Me.”
“Every year, more and more kids audition, and students (who) typically try to be invisible during the school day, come out and sing and really stand out,” Johnson said.
By moving the show before spring break, Johnson said, winners now will have time to “really bask in their own glory,” which also can be a great self-esteem booster.
But more than anything, Johnson said student council and school leaders are happy to help instill in students the need to help others. The talent show is one of the school’s biggest “give-back” fundraisers of the year, Johnson said, where attendees donate $5 to attend the show and support their fellow peers, and all proceeds benefit a nonprofit. All other expenses, like gift cards for prize winners, were paid for by the school’s parent-teacher group or through donations.
“In the grand scheme of things, $835 doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s more than we brought in last year,” Johnson said, which is impressive for a student-driven initiative.
Student council president Lauren Caterino, vice president Gracie Koch and secretary Maggie Lytle helped facilitate advertising and educate peers on the mission of Make-A-Wish Foundation.