By Ari Khavin, Grade 11, Journalism Student
Every year, High School of American Studies students gather at Lehman College’s Lovinger Theatre to celebrate the talented student body and the beginning of winter break. But this year, the talent show was moved to a virtual platform for the first time ever.
The program featured many acts, from musical performances to cooking tutorials, but also lacked some talent show staples, like the senior-written “thank you notes” that crack jokes about teachers and the school wide singalong that typically concludes the event.
Despite this, HSAS was still able to indulge in the talents of its student body. “I think it was really fun and interesting to see my classmates showcase their talents in the talent show,” said Kisna Pande, a freshman.
Art teacher Elizabeth DeBethune also enjoyed discovering more about the HSAS student body. “I am always astonished when I attend the Talent Show and find out who has been studying classical piano for 12 years, who has a voice that can reach the stars, and who has unbelievable dance moves,” she said.
Not only was the talent show an opportunity for HSAS to discover its students’ talents, but it was a way for the school to come together as a community.
Dahlia Shapiro, a sophomore, was pleased that the community-building aspect of the talent show remained strong this year. “It was really nice that there was a Zoom held with the whole school, especially because there had been no all-school events this year and even more so, no all school interaction at all,” she said. “It made our community seem more real.”
Shapiro was content with the talent show, but she also felt even more could have been done to enhance the sense of community: “I wish it would have been more interactive. For example, more audience participation, especially by having the MCs talk to the audience and interact with them.”
Additionally, the talent show did not have as many participants this year, both in viewership and performance. “I actually didn’t watch the talent show this year. I just wasn’t that interested in it because none of my close friends participated in it,” said Miranda Zanoni, a senior.
Olivia Kahn, a junior, didn’t watch the talent show for the same reason as Zanoni. “I didn’t know of anyone who was going to be in it,” she said.
The talent show ran just over an hour this year, whereas it was two hours long in previous years. Students like Shapiro chose not to submit an act, and Ms.DeBethune commented that “we can only know what each person chooses to share through Zoom.” Unfortunately, the talent show is the only opportunity for students to share their talents with all of HSAS. Subsequently, many are unable to share their talents due to unforeseen circumstances or unpreparedness at the time leading up to the talent show.
“I’ve played the piano for 10 years, but I did not submit it in the talent show because I have not practiced in a while and did not have a piece prepared,” said Shapiro.
Both Shapiro and Ms. DeBethune believe there should be more opportunities for HSAS students to share their talents. “I’d love to see HSAS expand visual arts opportunities, and real drama, music, and theater programs,” said Ms. deBethune. “The how and why of it is the hard part because we are a very small school with a very specific mission.”
While there are certainly challenges to implementing more of such opportunities at HSAS, Shapiro proposed “a monthly ‘Talent Spotlight' email to which students can submit their talents to be sent out to the school.” Ideas like this could certainly be implemented by HSAS, but for now, the annual talent show remains the only opportunity for students to showcase their talents to the entire school.
Students and teachers continue to look forward to the early winter when they get to learn of the many talents the student body has to share.
Image by Ari Khavin, Grade 11
Unfortunately, students are only given the opportunity to showcase their talents once throughout the school year.