WESTFIELD, NJ – Students at Jefferson Elementary School took the stage Friday and Saturday to groove and shine in front of friends and family at the school’s 18th annual Jefferson Jubilee.
This year's show show, in which students danced to a variety of choreographed pop music numbers, was themed Jump & Jive. It is a major school fundraiser and a tradition that is eagerly anticipated each year.
“In my opinion the Jubilee means a sense of community to Jefferson School,” said Principal Jeanette Munoz. “Every aspect of our school is utilized to put on this amazing performance.”
This year’s show is the largest in recent memory, Munoz noted. Over 420 pupils, or about 84 percent of the school population, participated in the production. Student groups practiced with their directors once a week after school since early January.
Helping to make the show a success were 81 parent directors, 43 Jefferson alumni volunteers and more than 30 parent volunteers who worked backstage, sold concessions, put together the program and more.
Christine Bradley and Jenn Czarnecki served as senior producers while Kate Reed and Adrian Pastore worked as junior producers. Jessica Brooks, Toni Deis and Denise Thornton were merchandise producers for the show.
For Bradley and the other producers, this weekend’s performance capped off months of planning, stretching back to last June. But she found the experience of working with a core group of her sons’ peers rewarding.
“You get to know other parents,” said Bradley. “It’s just fun to be creative and you have this group of kids you’ve seen grow up before your eyes.”
Fourth grader Jake Snyder performed in “Feel This Moment” by Pitbull and Christina Aguilera, under the direction of his mom Karen and several other parents. A few days before the show, Jake said he was not nervous.
“I don’t really have stage fright. I’m just really calm,” he said.
His sister, Julie Snyder, a second grader, danced to “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles, also directed in part by her mom.
“I’m just going to have fun,” said Julie Snyder.
Practicing and working on an activity over several months helps kids learn commitment as well, according to Karen Snyder.
“It’s good experience for the kids. You hope they have good memories,” she said.
Munoz echoed this sentiment.
“This participation gives them a ‘stage presence,’ a sense of belonging to a group and the joy of seeing what 10 weeks of practicing can afford you,” she said.
Other crowd favorites included the moms and dads dances, the fifth grade finale and a special performance Friday night by Jefferson teachers and staff, including Munoz.