WEST ORANGE, NJ — Members of the West Orange High School (WOHS) Band Council recently held a “Concert for a Cure” to support cancer research being conducted at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) in New York.

According to WOHS band teacher Erin Lagatic, who was also the event’s Master of Ceremonies, WOHS Band Council students organized the event “entirely on their own through word of mouth.”

With the help of Lagatic and other teachers, students planned for the event to be held in the Tarnoff Gymnasium, where several of the high school’s performing arts disciplines performed. These included the cast of this year’s musical “Mamma Mia,” members of the chamber orchestra, the wind ensemble, the Jubilee Choir, the award-winning girls and boys step teams, the color guard and the WOHS Glee Club.

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Three WOHS students also presented spoken-word performances related to the impact that cancer has on patients and their families.

Olivia Ridley gave a stirring performance in the form of a poem, describing how cancer can take over the body, but it will never take over the mind. Senior Naudia Johnson reflected on life after her aunt’s untimely death as a result of cancer before graduating from high school. Fellow senior Michael McCullom also reflected on his life as a high school cancer patient who is currently being treated at MSK.

McCullom—who was diagnosed with a rare form of a desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT) that was originally thought to be a benign cyst on his head—never thought that he would miss being a normal high school student. However, he announced at the concert that he is now cancer-free, and the audience erupted in applause during a standing ovation for the WOHS student. McCullom is expected to complete his treatment in September.

“The students wanted to put together a concert to raise awareness, but also to honor [McCullom],” said Lagatic.

Thanks to the combined efforts and support from the high school’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) Air Force program and the WOHS Music Boosters, Lagatic said the concert was able to raise more than $2,000 for research programs at MSK.

To learn more about DSRCT and how MSK treats it and other cancers, click HERE.

No program was provided at the concert, but below is a list of performances as provided by Erin Lagatic:

  • JROTC Presenting the Colors
  • National Anthem sung by senior Blair Murdock 
  • Cast of Mamma Mia
  • Orchestra Chamber Group presenting Symphony No 4
  • Girls Step Team
  • Winter Colorguard presenting "Becoming"
  • Olivia Ridley, original poem
  • Boys Step Team
  • Wind Ensemble presenting "Persistence" by Richard L. Saucedo
  • Naudia Johnson, speaker
  • Glee Club presenting a Queen Medley
  • Michael McCullom, speaker
  • Jubilee choir presenting "Never Alone"