America’s Got Talent, and so do the Lake Hiawatha kids at Knollwood Elementary. On January 24th, taking the auditorium stage of Parsippany High School, over 40 acts performed the 6th annual talent show, known as “Knollwood's Got Talent!”
Consisting of kindergarteners to fifth graders, the talent shows of Knollwood Elementary often features a variety of performances from dance, to singing, to drama acting, to instrument playing, to stand-up comedy, to martial arts demonstrations, or even a combination of the few.
Event organizer and PTA member Neda Donlin had said that there were once 60 acts this year, but due to some dropouts and time management, this number was reduced with several kids being put together as groups. Despite this, the show carried on and Donlin was happy to be part of its creation.
“Knollwood’s Got Talent,” said Donlin, who has organized talent shows for Knollwood students for the past three years. “My goal is for the kids to get on stage and learn public speaking. When I first pick the show up as chairperson, they were going to cancel it. But we have continued it and I couldn’t have done it without my volunteers and the parents of the kids. We have a quarter of the school’s population in this show!”
Many students also served as speakers, introducing acts and getting the crowd of 300 people excited for the next performance.
“I feel pretty good doing this though it’s my last year of elementary school,” said 11-year-old fifth grader Max Massefski, who got to dance in a group on stage. “My dance partners are all really nice. We’re not fully perfect, but we’ve gotten better.”
Max’s sisters, Victoria (9) and twin Sophia (11), and their friends Ziba (11) and Roya (8), formed their own dance group and shook their legs to the Addams Family theme song in skeleton costumes. They called themselves “The Spooky Bunch.”
“I like the talent show,” said Sophia. “The hard part is waiting for your turn, but it’s fun and we enjoy it, and we get to hang out with friends.”
Furthermore, due to Parsippany’s high Indian population, the talent show featured several Indian cultural dances and music. Some students even did traditional Hindi dances and songs, while in cultural robes and dresses, to Bollywood-versions of American pop songs.
“The talent show is exciting, but I’m a little nervous because a bunch of people are looking at me,” said six-year-old fifth grader Saanvi Murumkar, who also did a dance routine with her friends. “But I want to be in all the talent shows!”
Third grader Saloni Mahishi (8) was another dance whose group danced to the music style of Bollywood.
“I wanted to do this last year, but I couldn’t,” said Mahishi. “Now I can finally get to dance and learn more in the process.”
For over the past six years, the talent shows have raised a total of $9,000 for the Knollwood PTA. This amount got only higher by the show's end, with additional $1,800 collected this year, and as they showed off their talents on the high school auditorium stage, Knollwood students proved to all in attendance that creativity is important in their education.
The Knollwood PTA also holds tricky trays and beefsteak dinners, usually in the spring, among other events in their community.