Redondo Beach teachers, principals shine on stage

Adams Middle School’s Roxanna Ring, Linsey Gotanda and Julie Rosadini rehearse for their upcoming “Glee”-ful performance in RBUSD’s “Who’s Got (Some) Talent?” fundraiser. Photo by Andrea Ruse

The first piano notes of an all-too familiar piano tune come on.

“Just a small town girl,” sings the female half of a choir arranged into a “V” in a school auditorium. The scene looks like something out of a certain popular TV show about gleeful, singing, dancing high school students – but in Redondo Beach.

“Livin’ in a lonely world…”

The ensemble raises arms and shuffles feet in choreographed motion.

“Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit…” belts out the other half.

The cast bursts into song and dance to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” – that is, the Fox TV series “Glee” version.

But in this group, the cheerleader, star quarterback, paraplegic guitarist, goth, and nerd have been replaced by Adams Elementary School Principal Nikki Wesley, Vice Principal Robert Briggerman, teachers, an attendance clerk, a guidance counselor and several other school staff members itching to let out their inner artistes.

The Adams group’s Monday night rehearsal is in preparation to go up against 16 other acts — all performed by tap dancing, piano-playing, song-writing, music-singing, speech-reciting principals, teachers and administrators — on Saturday in Redondo Beach Unified School District’s first talent show fundraiser, “RBUSD’s Got (Some) Talent.”

Hosted by Superintendent Dr. Steven Keller at the Redondo Union High School auditorium, the show is aimed at raising money toward arts and music programs. The district faces a projected $2.7 million in cuts next year from its $60 million budget.

“One of the first-hit programs during budget cuts is the arts,” said Sharon Medina, the district’s recently named Child Development Center (CDC) Teacher of the Year at Madison Elementary School. “But arts save so many students’ lives. For some, it’s the reason they come to school and the one place they feel they can express themselves.”

In October, Medina was recovering from major surgery and awoke uncomfortable in the middle of the night when the idea for the fundraiser suddenly came to her. Excited and slightly medicated, she immediately emailed Keller a detailed memo, a la “Jerry Maguire,” outlining her idea, then went back to bed.

“When I woke up in the morning, I thought, ‘Oh my God, what did I do?’” Medina said. “This is the superintendent of the school district and he’s probably going, “What the heck is she thinking?”

Hardly.

Keller got back to Medina the next morning, excited and the two formed a committee that also included Madison first grade teacher Denine Hollow, without whose help Medina said the event would not have been possible.

“Lots of folks talk a big game; few, however, step-up and lead,” Keller said. “Sharon is an example of saying and doing. The world would be a much better place if more folks were like Sharon. She exudes leadership.”

The committee scouted out and recruited talent among initially hesitant district employees and put together a show with acts that include everything from a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” to Ike and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary,” in which Medina will perform with a mystery school principal. Another act will get the audience up and Jazzercising, and, during another performance, a teacher will perform a song she wrote for children.

The idea for the show’s name originated from the TV show “America’s Got Talent,” morphed into “RBUSD’s Got Talent,” and ultimately had “(Some)” added to it after a committee member jokingly pointed out that some were more talented than others.

“But ironically, some people really do have talent,” Medina said. “It’s amazing.”

Briggerman, who came with the idea for Adams’ “Glee” performance, said he had to “twist people’s arms” to get them to join. But the result is a group of teachers and administrators willing to put their dignity on the line to raise money for their students.

“When we have budget cuts like we have, it’s tough in education to have a night to come together and not care about being teachers or administrators, or about bargaining units and labor agreements,” said Medina, who hopes the event will become an annual fundraiser. “It’s about fun and raising money for our kids.”

Performances will be judged by Mayor Mike Gin, Redondo Union Principal Mary Little and Socorro Stephens, site superintendent at the district’s CDC. First and second place winners will be awarded.

As for the others, well “some will win, some will lose; some were born to sing the blues.”

The first annual “RBUSD’s Got (Some) Talent” show will be held in the Redondo Union High School Auditorium on this Saturday, May 21st at 7 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.. The cost is $10 per person in cash or check Adams ASB Arts and Music programs Sharon Medina will be recognized at Tuesday’s school board meeting as the district’s Child Development Center Teacher of the Year.. For more information visit www.cityrb.org. ER

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