SUMMIT, NJ - On a cold Saturday evening, Oct. 13, Summit residents filled the luxurious Reeves-Reed Arboretum for a night of singing as the Summit Performing Arts Resource Committee held their third annual SPARC'ling Evening of Song.
SPARC is a non-profit parent volunteer organization that provides advocacy, education initiatives and financial support for performing arts programs in all Summit public schools. Since its inception in 1996, SPARC's goal is to expose students to the performing arts to foster a lifelong interest in theatre, music and art. The organization holds three fundraisers a year and Saturday night's event is the largest of them.
The event featured Summit High School alumni from the past five years, choral directors and other members of the community. There was also finger foods, wine, a silent auction and a raffle.
The performers included: Nancy Mion, Shabazz Green, Nicole Mion, Adrian Arrieta, Sebastian Madrigal, Lulu Guerrero, Allison Mion, Jayne Myers, Ron Wells with Marilyn Casale, Mariah Dalton, Alex Dorer, Gillian Hassert, Wayne Mallette, Jim Mion and the group Six Out of Ten.
Co-presidents of the organization, Jamie Heckelman and Kathleen Dellasalla, were excited for the fundraiser. Both women said they got involved because of their family’s interest in the performing arts and they have enjoyed their time with the organization, as well.
"Having no background in performing arts, my involvement was originally driven by my family's interests," Heckelman said, "It has been a rewarding experience to be involved with SPARC as we support the performing arts throughout all of Summit's public schools."
Heckelman said the majority of the credit for the evening goes to SPARC member Nancy Mion who created the event. Because of her initiative to invite alumni back to perform, it’s a wonderful night, she said.
“It’s really fun and it’s really true to the heart of what SPARC is all about,” she said.
Dellasalla said the group is committed to the children of the community and helping them have a promising performing arts program in school. Some of the money from the evening will go to the rights to the high school spring musical, “Beauty and the Beast” and also to the forensic program at the school.
“If I have to dedicate time, I might as well dedicate it towards something my children love,” she said.
Mion, who been with the organization for six years, was quite modest when talking about the event. She said the credit really goes to the singers and the great show they put on.
One of the performers, Mariah Dalton, who graduated last year, said she was excited to be at the event for the first time, but a little nervous. She was active throughout high school in the drama club and choir and currently attends Muhlenberg University where she has continued her performing arts career.
“This is my first time and I hope I’m invited back,” she said.
Lulu Guerrero, who attends Rider University for musical theater, graduated from Summit High School two years ago. She has been performing since her sophomore year and singing since the fourth grade. While she always knew she had the pipes, she didn’t catch on to acting until she was drawn to it in high school, she said.
“Once I started theater at the high school, I fell in love with acting, dancing and everything that comes along with it,” Guerrero said.