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Students display talent

Posted By December 4, 2014 | 5:21 pm | Local

By Tanya Connor

Faces displayed emotion – doleful countenances of singers of sad songs and sunny smiles of sure-footed dancers.
The 12 entertainers were students from the Diocese’s four central Catholic schools: St. Peter Elementary, St. Peter-Marian Junior/Senior High and Holy Name Junior/Senior High, all in Worcester, and St. Bernard’s High in Fitchburg.
They were competing in the third annual “Catholic Schools Have Talent” show, held Friday at Holy Name. Each of the schools had its own talent show and then sent the winners to Friday’s show. Adopt-A-Student sponsors the fundraiser for its tuition assistance program.
There are other reasons for the show too.
“This event will showcase the talent that exists in our four Central Catholic schools and will provide an evening of enjoyment for you,” promised the program booklet. “The dedication of our superintendent, headmasters, administrators and teachers to ensure that they maintain programs in their schools that allow students to develop their talents is admirable, when other schools struggle to maintain programs like these.”
“It was a great way to support my school, St. Peter Central Catholic,” Megan Dickie said of singing “You Raise Me Up.” The eighth-grader, who placed second in last year’s show, said she had fun and dedicated this year’s performance to her grandparents and mother.
“It’s been fun watching you the last three years,” Mary Knight, midday host for 104.5 WXLO in Worcester, told Megan. “And, boy, you picked a hard song! … Your voice is just beautiful!”
Ms. Knight was one of three judges who took turns critiquing contestants before choosing winners. Emcee Dale LePage, host of WooTube on Charter TV 3 (Channel 193), had said they would judge according to skill, difficulty, ability, comfort level on stage and crowd response.
The trophy goes to St. Peter-Marian for the coming year, thanks to Alexandra Gago, a sophomore there, taking first place. She sang Elizaveta’s “Meant,” accompanying herself on the piano.
Second-place winners were a duo of St. Bernard’s seniors – Cecilia Mercadante sang, accompanied by Sydney Esielionis on the piano.
Maiah Lester, a St. Peter’s eighth-grader, placed third for her self-choreographed dance to Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke Remix.”
Each contestant got a gift certificate from a sponsoring business and winners were awarded an additional gift certificate, organizers said. Mr. LePage said Michael Tortora, the only male contestant, was absent due to strep throat, but should get his gift certificate as a get well card. He said he’d wanted to see the Holy Name senior’s “comic routine.”
“It was exciting,” Alexandra Gago said of participating. “I’ve never performed in a multi-school talent show. I was sort of nervous, but not really.”
Did she think she’d win?
“I was hoping for it, but I wasn’t expecting it,” she replied, noting how good the other contestants were during rehearsals.
“That was fantastic!” Hank Stolz, of the Hank Stolz Experience on Charter TV 3 (Channel 193), critiqued her. He noted her hours of practice and outfit and asked what the song meant to her.
“I love the way it sounds … the lyrics … loss,” Alexandra replied. “It really didn’t matter in the first place. You can let it go.”
Mr. Stolz indicated that Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” that Cecilia and Sydney performed was a challenge, since it’s been used for many things by many people.
At the end of her energetic dance Maiah sprawled down on the stage and grinned at the audience.
“Yes, Girl, you just asked for it!” raved Monica R. O’Connell, a dancer, choreographer and adjunct professor of dance at Worcester State University. “Look at the steam on that stage! And your smile – it’s gorgeous!”
“That was fierce, Girl!” “Judge” O’Connell told Rachel DeLapara, a St. Peter’s sixth-grader, who danced to “Glam.” “You were workin’ it, Girl! Very nice job.”
To Nicole Dube, a St. Peter’s fifth-grader who did a cheer routine to “Stingray,” she said: “I loved your routine! … I loved it, Girl! Keep workin’ it.”
She told Nicole’s classmate Naima  Masiki, who did an Irish Step Dance Medley, “I loved that your sounds were so strong and you hit all the accents.”
“The kids were great!” Ms. O’Connell told The Catholic Free Press. She marveled at the “wide variety” of talents, more than when she did talent shows consisting mainly of singing and excerpts from plays.
“I think you have an old soul,” Ms. Knight praised Priscilla Paintsil. Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” which the St. Peter-Marian junior sang, isn’t a song one hears on the radio today, she said.
“It fit your voice really well,” she continued. “I felt like you really understood the lyrics.”
Ms. Knight raved to Alexandra Hanlon, a St. Bernard’s sophomore, “You didn’t have any sheet music in front of you” when playing on the piano “Linus and Lucy,” theme song of the Charlie Brown television show. She said she was picturing Charlie Brown running, and will think of Alexandra when she sees the show.
She said she loved how Alexia Evangelous, a St. Peter-Marian sophomore, brought up the tempo of Elton John’s “Your Song.”
“You made his song your song,” she said. “It’s not easy to play the piano and sing at the same time. I thought it was a beautiful rendition of ‘Your Song.’”
Mr. Stolz praised Krystal Melendez, a Holy Name ninth-grader, for “the way in which you connected with the audience.” Krystal sang Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me” with emotion on her face.
William Driscoll, of the Adopt-A-Student steering committee, and Stephen Kaufman, of the diocesan Communications Office, directed and produced the show, which raised about $3,500, according to Robert Pape, steering committee chairman. DVDs of the show can be purchased by e-mailing requests to