Arts & Entertainment

Warren's Woodland School Showcases Talent Proving Students Are More Than a Score

Reach Too! Michael Barros, David Scali, Sami Dauer, Fiona Shanahan, Lara Martin, Ilina Xu, Lydia Eberle, Kaelani Aanstoots, and Lexi Jacobson with PJ Jones Credits: Judy Shanahan
Maya Wishnia did a song and dance routine of the song "Naughty" from Matilda the Musical. Credits: Judy Shanahan
Nicholas Harrison did original comedy, even remarking at one point, "tough crowd." Credits: Judy Shanahan
Kendall sang "Better When I'm Dancin'" by Meghan Trainor.  Brought the house down. Credits: Judy Shanahan
​Max played "Minuet" by Georg Philipp Telemann Credits: Judy Shanahan
​Aaron Opell performed "Raiders March" by John Williams, in the full Indiana Jones getup. Credits: Judy Shanahan
works of art and engineering that students created were displayed. Fiona Shanahan displayed a painting and pencil drawings around a safari theme. Credits: Judy Shanahan
Mr. Yenish briefly interviewed a number of students as they finished their performances...Christian Calvo sang "Glory of Love" by Peter Cetera. Credits: Judy Shanahan
Sophia Smith(L) and Hallie Sussner(R) choreographed and performed an original dance to the song "Brave" by Sara Bareilles. Credits: Judy Shanahan
Madeleine Barros performed a jump rope routine.  She actually performed alone after her two other group members got sick that day.  Credits: Judy Shanahan
Kung Fu performance by Kung Sair Credits: Judy Shanahan
Michael Oliviapotenza played piano and sang the song "Say Something" by A Great Big World. Credits: Judy Shanahan
Lara Martin did two pastel works of sunsets, titled "Intensity" and "Serenity". Credits: Judy Shanahan
Harshil Singh performed an original song called "Sky-High Dreams" which involved singing and some extraordinary vocal percussion (beatboxing). Credits: Judy Shanahan
There were 11 boys in this performance in total...very funny "synchronized swimming" bit that had them mimicking those types of moves behind a blue tarp. Credits: Judy Shanahan

WARREN, NJ - Woodland School students are more than a number, a score or a grade as evidenced by “Woodland’s Got Talent," a show planned, presented and performed by Woodland students.

Presented on Friday, April 15 and featuring  20 acts, the Woodland crowd was “blown away” by the performances, from individual and group performers, including martial arts and gymnastics demonstrations, dances, songs, musical instrument performances, and stand-up comedy, according to Philip Jones, who teaches the gifted and talented “REACH Too!” program at Woodland School.

MC of the night and Woodland fifth grade teacher Mr. Adam Yenish, interviewed a number of students as they finished their acts and added a real professional tone to the night.  

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Jones said he gave his students a project to find a way to better display the talents of their peers.

“The show started as a project in my fifth grade REACH, Too! class where I presented the children with a learning scenario discussing the growth of standardized testing and data collection in education,” said Jones. “I tasked them with finding some way to let the tremendous talents of our students show through, proving that our kids are more than a number, a score or a grade.

“They considered probably 25 different ways to solve this problem. After much deliberation and research, the students determined that a talent show was the perfect way to solve the problem.”

The REACH students distributed a Google survey to gauge student interest among third, fourth and fifth graders.

“From there they organized basically every facet of the show, including enlisting volunteers from the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), who co-sponsored the event; creating fliers, programs, email blasts, morning announcements to promote the show, and all the minutia that goes along with one of these events,” said Jones. “They even coordinated with the Woodland School Service Club to collect canned goods and monetary donations at the event as well, in order to ‘give back’ through their talents.”

With the help of the Service Club, the students were able to collect dozens of canned goods and $200 in donations. The PTO also organized a bake sale and charged $2 admission for the show, which allowed them to collect over $500.

Jones is proud of what his students were able to do.

“I think with a lot of the projects that I present to my kids, I try to keep them authentic and open-ended so the kids have a lot of choice in the matter,” said Jones. “We talk a lot about problem solving and I feel like it’s important for the kids to go through possible solutions to a problem, to investigate different solutions and pick what’s best for them. To see them go through that process successfully was amazing.

“For them to produce something out of nothing that so many peers and family members got enjoyment from, I was really proud of all that they did and I think they were too.”

“I had a number of students approach me since the event telling me that they are planning acts for next year’s show,” he said. “It was a great night for all involved, and a great learning experience for my students, not to mention a great legacy for them to leave with Woodland as they transition to Warren Middle School next year.”

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