Search form

Student Talent Abounds At Bennet Show

The hidden talents of many Bennet Middle School students were showcased at the school's first talent show. From hip-hop favorites to Irish step-dancing, the line-up was pure Bennet; unassumingly multicultural. Included: Descriptions of a middle school talent show. (Editor's note: The actual first names of the show winners are included.)

American Idol fever hit Bennet Middle School.

A school talent show featured 17 student acts involving 34 students. Even though students couldn't vote for their favorites, except through applause and foot-stomping, audiences were loud and engaged.

Contestants performed three times at assemblies for each of the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, and different three-judge panels evaluated each show and compared notes. Judges were provided with scoring rubrics that included marks for creativity, coordination of outfits, and originality, with the highest point value (20 points each) allocated to presentation and rhythm/synchronization.

Two performers tied for first place; Jazmine, a fluid dancer and Catherine, a high-kicking Irish step dancer. They received three ice creams and two homework passes. Second place and a t-shirt went to Abby, a powerful vocalist. Edwin, who crooned one-and-a-half love songs, earned third place and a water bottle.

Not to mention some status points among their peers.

Prior to the show, principal Dr. Ann Richardson welcomed everyone to the gym, and set the tone: "We only are going to be positive. No booing is allowed."


A dance team shows its moves.
(Education World photo)

Like everything at Bennet, the show is an unassuming mix of cultures and styles, with acts including Irish step-dancing and an Indian dance, several vocalists, a girl riding a unicycle while dribbling a basketball, a three-piece rock band, and a number of hip-hop and break-dancing groups.

Several powerful singers, some of whom performed a cappella, belted out songs including the currently popular "I Don't Want Your Candy," "Since You've Been Gone," and "The Star-Spangled Banner."

After students performed, they returned to the bleachers and nodded and clapped along to other performances. African-American students were tapping and swaying to an Indian dance number and cheering for the step-dancer.

The audience oohed with anticipation when a popular song accompanying an act blared out of the boom box.


A high-kicking Irish step dancer.
(Education World photo)

Excitement ran through the school all day, and in the hour before the show, student performers gathered in one of the cafeterias to prepare and rehearse. The unicyclist made some practice runs down the center aisle, several groups rehearsed dance routines, and one girl strummed her guitar while another sang.

Two boys, who were missing their other two dance partners, still were debating whether their show would go on. A staff member assisted with the final decision, checking their names on a list. "You guys are down," she said. "So you'd better dance."

A dancer glides through a routine.
(Education World photo)

The 17 acts for the talent show were selected from about 60 students who auditioned, said Dr. Richardson. She decided to hold the show after several students asked about a chance to perform; Dr. Richardson also had held a talent show in her previous school and it was a hit. Besides, it is March, a traditionally long and dreary month on the education calendar.

"It's just something to lighten up March," said guidance counselor Felicina Petito, who served as a judge for the auditions and the show. "The kids are so excited," she said before the show. "It's great when they can express themselves in different ways. This gives them the opportunity to demonstrate talents they might not have a stage for."

Education World Goes Back to School

Education World news editor Ellen R. Delisio is spending several days a month this school year with the Royal 7's, a seventh grade team at Bennet Middle School, a grade 6 to 8 school in Manchester, Connecticut. She is observing and participating in students' learning, and talking with staff about their strategies and perspectives on improving student performance. She is a graduate of W. Tresper Clarke Junior-Senior High School in Westbury, N.Y.

Article by Ellen R. Delisio
Education World®
Copyright © 2005 Education World