Fourth graders from all three island schools wowed the crowd at SJSA’s Hooray for Hollywood fundraiser event at Westin Resort and Villas.
An impressive roster of stars walked the red carpet at the St. John School of the Arts’ major annual fundraiser, Broadway Comes to St. John, on Saturday evening, February 15, at the Westin Resort and Villas. Everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers came out to see the culmination of weeks of hard work by Love City fourth graders and the “Broadway Five,” as they’ve become affectionately known on the island.
More than 100 residents, who dressed to the nines or donned costumes evocative of their favorite stars, came out to support the show.
“We support children everywhere on this island all the time,” said Lonnie Willis as she and her husband Albert arrived at the red carpet. “The people from Broadway give their all, and we want to support them.”
The fundraiser typically has brought in upwards of $45,000 during each of the past four years for the arts school’s scholarship fund, program expansion, and general operations, and SJSA Executive Director Kim Wild was hoping this year would be the biggest yet. A final tally of how much was raised at the show was not available at press time.
JESS student Sanijah Gris
“I’m feeling wonderful,” said Wild prior to the show. “Everyone’s excited.”
SJSA board member Ronnie Lee, who conceived of the idea for the Broadway Comes to St. John fundraiser and who hosts the five Broadway stars in his home during their three weeks on island, was looking dapper dressed as Fred Astaire.
“We’re excited to see all the stars here, but the real stars are the fourth grade students of St. John,” said Lee. “Tonight is the culmination of months of hard work by the faculty and board, and three fantastic weeks that the children and their teachers have put in.
Their focus and dedication have been amazing.”
The students’ three weeks of hard work paid off, as they dazzled a packed house with their show, “Hooray for Hollywood,” in which fourth graders from each island school performed numbers from Hollywood classics.
Julius E. Sprauve School students sang Judy Garland’s hit “Get Happy” from the 1950 film Summer Stock, while soloists from all three schools sang a sweet rendition of “Over the Rainbow” from 1939’s Wizard of Oz. Gifft Hill School students sang “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” as the beloved munchkins from the movie.
Dramatic performances captivated the audience, including an epic battle from the movie Star Wars, where JESS students emerged victorious over Darth Vader, and a passionate reenactment of scenes from the movie Rocky by Guy Benjamin School fourth graders.
The island’s students didn’t miss a beat during their 22 numbers, evoking laughter, applause, and cheers from the audience.
“It takes all of us to do what we do,” Wild said to the audience. “These children have been given a huge gift — the arts.”
After three weeks of pouring their hearts and souls, time, energy, and effort into the SJSA fundraiser — for which they were not paid — the five Broadway stars pooled their funds and awarded an arts school scholarship to JESS student Sanijah Gris at the culmination of the evening’s show.