By AMY WENGER
WAKARUSA — When considering the best way to organize a fund-raising mission for Wakarusa Elementary’s music and fine arts department, the source of inspiration came about quite easily.
The solution: What better way to help raise money for the ultimate benefit of the students then by offering to serenade the masses in a celebration of song?
This is the melodious motivation that has driven the recent efforts of Younger Generation, led by vocal music teacher and instructor Shawn Skaggs. The musical performers, comprised of select singers in fourth and fifth grades, will be debuting the “Younger Generation Choir Showcase,” Thursday in the elementary school’s cafeteria. The event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
The presentation will lead with the offering of desserts, which are being provided by the Younger Generation students and their families. From there, the evening will gradually segue into music, with a selection of tunes chosen from the group’s spring repertoire.
There will also be a special appearance by Sara Balogh, a NorthWood High senior and member of the school’s musical performance troupe, Dawning Generation. Balogh will be demonstrating her talents on the piano as visitors sample their desserts, surrounded by a spectacle of spring decor, the latter of which is being coordinated by a volunteer committee of parents and supporters.
This is the first year in which a production has been tailored to highlight the achievements of the young choral and dance ensemble. Yet it’s an idea that’s been bandied about in the past, Skaggs noted, observing that the thought actually originated because of the overwhelming audiences that typically turn out for Wakarusa Elementary’s artistic endeavors.
“We’ve talked for a couple of years about not having YG perform before the second- and third-grade musical, due to an already packed show. Plus it’s hard for the YG parents to see their child if they are asked to stand in the back until after YG performs,” Skaggs said. “I thought about adding a showcase to the end of the year last year, starting this year. It will give Younger Generation performers and parents more of an intimate setting to showcase their music and share all their hard work with not only parents, but they can invite friends and extended family.”
If all goes well, Skaggs added, it is very likely that there will be a similarly styled, Christmas-themed showcase during the next school year.
As an added flourish to the festivities, Skaggs will be taking part in a vocal duet featuring Christian radio station WFRN personality Vincy Willamowski. Skaggs and Willamowski are longtime friends who lead in worship together at Southgate Church in South Bend.
“I asked her if she would be willing to come and be part of the night, and she gladly said yes,” Skaggs said.
If the preliminary numbers indicate there will a number of people in attendance, then the showcase will be moved to the gymnasium. Guests are being asked to consider offering a donation of $5 per family, or whatever amount they can give, which will be used toward a fund to purchase a new sound system for the school.
Fourth-grade members of Younger Generation include Andrew Bailey, Reese Barhydt, Damon Bentley, Olivia Bley, Jonathan Cripe, Amanda Foster, Ella Gongwer, Andrew Graber, Adrienna Kaser, Sydney King, Gracie Knepper, Kennady Lehman, Claire Lingle, Bridget Marks, Alea Minnich, Krista Poulson, Mia Reinhardt, Keegan Silveus, Mariah Slabaugh and Kate Stillson.
Fifth-grade singers include Emily Barrera, Emily Bennett, Morgan Berry, Ashlyn Branch, Kaylee Cripe, Tyler Cronkright, Laura Eby, Karlie Fielstra, Landon Holland, Chase Horner, Quinten Hunsberger, Elle Jansen, Alexzandria Jesse, Jessica Kramp, Veshon Malone, Andrew Miller, Madison Payne, Makenna Perry, Katelyn Rulli, Ariana Runge, Stephen Schmidt, Kirsten Schrock, Macey Smith, Alexis Weldy, Avery Weldy, Tessalyn White and Zachary Yoder.
For more information about the “Younger Generation Choir Showcase,” contact Wakarusa Elementary at (574) 862-2000. Skaggs’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.