Top-class talent: Southeast Middle students stage fundraiser

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
Move over “American Idol.” Southeast Middle School has got the real talent.
Several students displayed their chops at a Thursday night talent show in the school’s gym.
The talent show was held to raise money for the school’s Student Assistance Fund and Rowan Helping Ministries.
The School Assistance Fund helps buy school supplies for students whose families may not be able to afford them.
By the end of the night, the school had raised more than $800 through ticket, DVD and concession sales.
The talent show was sponsored by The Barracuda Team.
The school divided into teams who “do something to give back to the community,” said language arts teacher Gwynne Shoaf.
Shoaf said 35 acts auditioned for the show and 15 were chosen. The acts ranged from singers to dancers and guitarists.
Twelve-year-old Brandi Griffith performed her own version of Beyonce’s song, “Single Ladies.” Griffith said she’d seen the video several times and told her mother, Barbara, that she thought she could do it. So the middle school student put her own spin on it.
Clad in white clothes and colorful jewelry, she did her best to out-dance Beyonce.
“Beyonce has been my idol. I thought, ‘I could do that,’ ” Griffith said.
Once Griffith began to groove, the crowd cheered her on.
“It really was an energy booster,” she said.
Perhaps no one cheered and clapped louder than her mother, who had a front-row seat on the bleachers.
“I am very proud of her. Middle school is very hard,” her mother said.
She said her daughter is quite confident and outgoing.
“She loves to dance,” she said.
The Salisbury resident said her daughter also has performed with her church dance ministry.
Nathaniel Wilhelm had no problem performing in front of his peers. The 14-year-old guitar player said he wasn’t nervous at all.
The first solo performer, Wilhelm played “The Star-Spangled Banner.” If you closed your eyes, you’d have sworn it was Woodstock and Jimi Hendrix was on stage.
The teen belted out the national anthem as the crowd rose to its feet.
“He’s my main playing influence,” Wilhelm said of Hendrix.
Wilhelm has been playing guitar since he was 8. He learned the song in three weeks a year ago and said knowing the music made it easy to perform without fear.
“It was good experience to perform in front of people,” he said.
He takes lessons and hopes to start his own band.
His grandmother, Jane Wilhelm, is recovering from surgery, but she had to see her grandson perform.
“I’m just so proud of him,” she said with a smile.
Andrea and Steve Goddard both said they would not have had the courage their 11-year-old daughter Emily, 11 displayed.
Emily played the flute and was one of five who performed as the opening music act.
“I couldn’t do it,” Steven said.
The couple also said it’s nice the school is getting involved in the community.
“I think it’s wonderful. It’s for a good cause, to support the school and Rowan Helping Ministries,” Andrea said.
Kelsey Melvin, 14, floated across the floor, reminiscent of his favorite performer, Chris Brown.
Since he was 3 years old, the student has been gliding on the floor.
Melvin chose a remix of Chris Brown’s “Gimme That” because it had the right rhythm and speed, he said.
He gets new dance moves from videos on TV and comes up with his own, as well.
“It’s not that hard,” he said. “I just kind of move to it.”
Some people seemed surprised to see how Melvin could move, but not his mother, Portia.
The Salisbury resident beamed as Kelsey finished, shouting, “That’s my son!”
“I’m very proud,” she said.
Portia said her son dances so much, their family calls him “Dance Fever.”
Melvin not only dances on his church’s praise team, he also plays the drums and sings.
“I thought it was great and the proceeds go to Rowan Helping Ministries and the school,” Portia said of the talent show.
Like Melvin, McClain Miles, 12, is no stranger to the stage or performing.
The Salisbury resident regularly performs in local theater productions at the Meroney Theatre and church.
She sang “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree” by KT Tunstall, moving around the gym floor and wooing the crowd.
Miles said she chose the song because her voice is similar to the Tunstall’s.
“Even though I have done a lot. I’m always a little nervous at the beginning,” she said.