Contributors - Ally Sighete (Maine South senior and Maine 207 Foundation student intern) Sandy Deines (Maine 207 Foundation trustee)
The Maine 207 Foundation’s 2021 Benefit was an enormous success, raising over $65,000 due to the generosity of alumni, parents, district teachers and staff, community members, and corporate sponsors. This year the Foundation enlisted the help of district students to produce a virtual benefit in the format of a pre-recorded video. Those who watched the benefit video were impressed by our student emcees: Maine West’s Belle Gerstmayr, Maine South’s Jimmy Cone, and Maine East’s Daniel Cho. Behind the scenes, the district’s videography intern, Maine South’s Ellie Compton, also contributed to the success of the video.
All four students are veterans of the performing arts. Belle shared that she’s been involved with theater and comedy since grade school, the sillier the role the better! An evil step-sister in Cinderella, Pinocchio in Shrek, and Kafka the monkey in All in the Timingstand out. “I love the reaction I get from the audience!” When not doing school musicals, V-show, Improv, or stand-up, Belle is playing French Horn or Mellophone in Band.
Daniel is active in music and theater as well, recently appearing in Stud Terkel’sWorking this spring in Maine East’s first ever outdoor performance. “I liked playing Mike Dillard, an iron worker and retired firefighter in Working,” Daniel commented. “And performing with a stage and sound set up outside the Auditorium was definitely different. There were many challenges, including the weather!” In addition to serving as one of the emcees for the benefit video, Daniel’s beautiful duet, “Quando, Quando, Quando“ was featured in the video’s musical introduction.
Jimmy is also multi-talented, performing in choir, vocal jazz, band, and theater. He described how Maine South’s spring musical, The Theory of Relativity, was impacted by Covid. “Auditions were by Zoom, as well as callbacks and early rehearsals. When mandates were lifted, we were able to rehearse with social distancing and stream our final performances.” Watch Jimmy’s interview with our Foundation intern, Ally Sighete.
Ellie comes to the performing arts from behind the scenes on sound crew for the plays and musicals, as well as performing on stage in V-show, and broadcasting on WMTH. As an intern for district videographer Dan Kolen, Ellie worked on a variety of projects, including the C-Team and Gifted Lyceum features in the Foundation Benefit Video. “I enjoy how videography is a combination of different skill sets and ways of thinking,” Ellie explained. ”There is a creative side to it in making the choices of how things look, a problem-solving part to make things happen and look the way you want them to, and a big organization piece with keeping track of all the elements of a project. And no two projects are the same.”
When asked what they’d learned about the Foundation from their involvement in the video, each of the students admitted they hadn’t known much beforehand. Dan commented, “I really got a chance to learn about the positive impact the Foundation has in our community and on our schools.” “I got to learn about unique programs in the district, like the Gifted Lyceum and the School-Based Health Center,” shared Ellie.
Several of the senior students offered advice to underclassmen. Jimmy advised, “Do the things that scare you the most, because they are often the greatest things; you can always do more than you think.” A parting piece of advice from Belle, “Find the most joy in the things you do, and share that joy with others.”
We wish both joy and exciting challenges for our student emcees and interns in the years ahead. Next year, Daniel looks forward to being involved in Maine East’s Fine Arts program, hopefully full of in-person music and theater performances. Jimmy will be an Acting major and band member at the University of Illinois, Belle will be at the University of Kansas as a Theater Performance and Film & Television student, and Ellie is headed for DePaul University to study Film & Television. The Foundation’s intern Ally will also be at DePaul, studying marketing.