10/06/11 — Talent takes stage at fair's competition

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Talent takes stage at fair's competition

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 6, 2011 1:46 PM

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Caroline Gurley, a first-grader at Meadow Lane Elementary School, performs to the "Hula Hoop Song" during the talent show at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair Wednesday evening. She placed second for grades K-2 in the solo novelty act category.

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Caleb Gray and Michaela Gray, siblings from Eastern Wayne Elementary School, perform "If You Wanna be a Star" during the talent show. The duo performed in the vocal category and won second place for grades K-2.

There was an impressive pool of talent among the elementary school set at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair Wednesday night -- from the typical singers and dancers to martial arts demonstrators and hula hoopers.

Amanda Sarvis stood in the aisle, can of hairspray in one hand, poised to guide her daughter, Blair, from afar as she performed a lyrical dance solo in the talent contest. As the music began and the Wayne Christian second-grader glided about the stage, Mrs. Sarvis mimicked several of the movements.

"I always make sure if she looks up, and she's not in her spot, I catch her up," she said.

Blair, she said afterward, has been dancing since age 2 but this was her first time performing at the fair.

"She's always danced. She's a pageant baby -- she's been in pageants since she was 3, and has been in over 100 pageants," Mrs. Sarvis said. "When they announced (the contest) in school, she raised her hand."

Jenny Heim said her first- and second-graders had been practicing "forever" for the event, or at least since the school year began.

The multi-age class at Meadow Lane Elementary School was all decked out in costumes several parents had helped sew for the large vocal number, "Busy as a Bee." They will serve a dual purpose, though, the teacher said, as students also use the outfits in an upcoming class play.

Why did classmates Ella Grace Bergstof and Jasmine Rodriguez, both 7, say they decided to enter the competition?

"We didn't really have a choice," said Ella Grace, smiling.

The friends said they believed the bright yellow and black costumes should help them win. When the votes were later tallied, the group of 14 students captured first place in the category.

Joel Peele watched with pride as his 7-year-old daughter, Taylor, took to the stage with her hot pink hula hoop.

"She doesn't really have any formal hula hoop training," he admitted. "She just wanted to try out and we brought her out early to the school and they picked her."

The second-grader at Northwest Elementary School practiced two or three weeks in anticipation of the big day, Peele said. He'd be remiss, he said, if he didn't credit his wife, Carolyn, with taking the lead on coaching their eldest child.

"She did all the dirty work," he said with a smile.

But it would be two other hula hoopers who captured top scores in the novelty act solo category.

Grantham School second-grader Cailee Bennett, clad in a black-and-white striped shirt and matching hat, won first place for her routine to "Jailhouse Rock," managing to guide the hoop from her neck to her waist then her ankles, before adding a second hoop to the mix.

Caroline Gurley, a first-grader at Meadow Lane Elementary School, started out with a yellow hula hoop before adding a green one.

As the "Hula Hoop Song" reached the lyrics about "Trying to keep the hula hoops from slipping away," as if on cue, one of the hoops slipped down and Caroline calmly reunited them both at her waist before adding a third.

She received second place for her effort.

Nathan Taylor's vocal solo received a first place nod from the judges. The Wayne Country Day School second-grader, clad in a blue sequin vest and black bow tie, sang, "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile."

"Smile, baby, smile," said emcee Janet Barnes as she proclaimed him winner in that category.

Coming up second and third, respectively, were JoClaire Frederick, a kindergartner at Fremont STARS Elementary, and Christina Lancaster, a second-grader at Northeast Elementary.

Ven Faulk was there to cheer on his three youngest daughters, otherwise known as the Faulk Sisters -- Emma, Julia and Susannah, students at Grantham School -- while periodically dashing over to the cheerleading competition, where his older daughter, Patricia, co-head cheerleader at Grantham School, was a contender.

"My mama's here, three of their aunts and uncles," Faulk said of his back-up contingent as he prepared his video camera to capture the moment.

The blonde siblings took to the stage, prepared to sing, "Give Me Oil in My Lamp."

"You can clap along if you like," said Susannah as strains of the music began.

Julia soloed on the first verse, her sisters chiming in on the chorus. Susannah sang lead on the second verse and Emma on the third stanza.

It proved a hit, as they placed first in the vocal group category.

Second place went to brother and sister act Caleb and Michaela Gray, students at Eastern Wayne Elementary.

And while it was not a schools-sponsored event, some teachers had their own vested interest in the proceedings.

Tammy Evans, a dance teacher at "A Step of Class," estimated she had six or seven of her students participating in the event.

"I think it's wonderful. I'm so excited," she said during intermission. "I have a lot of kids who come every year."

This was the first, though, that one of her own children was also entered. Daughter Heather, 6, and her dance partner, Jada Bolar, 8, did a tap dance to "Zip-A-Dee Doo Dah."

Kevin Alston, longtime music and choral teacher at Carver Heights Elementary School, now splits his days between that school and working with fifth- and sixth-graders at Mount Olive Middle School. He groomed three middle school students for the fair contest.

"It's been some years since they have had somebody in it," he said. "I said I'm gonna try to bring them back with a bang."

Two of his students, Shannon and David Casey, received first place in the group dance for grades 3-5.

For anyone who missed the event, there will be an opportunity to see some of the student performers on stage again this Saturday, during Kids Fest 2011 at Berkeley Mall, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.