C-School Spirit Shines at Coffee House

Posted on Thursday April 8, 2010

Music, dance, and a whole lotta laughter filled Wayfinder Schools’s living room on Thursday night as students, staff and volunteers broke new ground on what’s sure to become a long-standing C-School tradition, the open mic coffee house.

Residential Overnight Counselor and event organizer Alix McLean spent much of Thursday decorating, preparing food and setting up the sound system, and by the time the event kicked off, the school had the feel of a funky art house/coffee house, complete with tapestries, white lights and a photo exhibit from the kids’ recent trip to New York City. 

On that trip, which was extended by one day due to the breakdown of the school’s van on the drive home, students celebrated the crossing of each state’s border by singing the National Anthem.  It seemed appropriate, then, to launch the coffee house with a lively rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, which had everyone singing to the rafters, and (mostly), on key. 

 The first individual performer to take the stage was C-School culinary instructor Cathy Ames-Cruz with a silly, rhyming ditty that showed off her inner-rapper and hidden talent for the stage.  Who knew that in-between baking brownies and whipping up multi-course dinners, Cathy is a secret actress/singer/dancer/rapper/poet?    Her performance of “Harry the Hairy Ape” set a great tone for the evening, and inspired the next act, an alarmingly good dancing chicken interpretation by student Tyler Sabattis.  

How Tyler managed to wrap his red long johns around himself in a way that forced his body into an undeniable chicken shape and move around the room so gracefully, while still leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was, in fact, a chicken, will probably always remain a mystery.  But his performance combined just enough over-the-top “wow” factor to send it from the silly to the (almost) sublime.  

Next up was intern Jake Schmidt, and students Ian Betts and Erich Knight, with a baritone version of “I Feel Pretty”, complete with lipstick, heels and a dress worn by Mr. Betts.  They got the well deserved laughs they were after, but they also pulled off a pretty (no pun intended) solid musical performance. 

Betts, Knight and Sabbatis then took the stage together to show off their dance moves to “Yummy”, a performance that prompted Residential Program Director Joseph Hufngael to say, “We’re having dress rehearsal next time.” 

The night took a more serious and definitively artistic turn with the next performance, by student and singer-songwriter Zech McIntosh.  Zech took the floor with his guitar and wowed everyone to silence with his soulful strumming, vocals and lyrics.  His untitled work left no doubt in anyone’s mind that this kid has got talent, and wondering how he managed to combine punk, folk, rock and pop all in one solid song.  

Next up was Lead Teacher Carrie Braman, who read a funny, insightful essay about religion, politics, pop-culture and the power of chance encounters, and with her reading, reminded everyone about the importance of observation, and putting pen to paper.  

Hufnagel and the students, especially Betts and classmate Natalie Paul,  showed off their acting ability in a short video reenactment of an actual school-wide hiking trip gone wrong.  On that trip, students hiked for about four hours in the Camden Hills, looking for an overnight cabin they never found.  However, rather than complaining about their misfortune, the students took the whole thing in stride and good humor, and turned their experience in to a “Blair Witch Project” type video featuring shaky camera footage, ominous music, an odd encounter with a shady Park Ranger (played by Betts), and the eerily disturbing disappearance of Hufnagel and his unusual plot-unifying prop, a jar of jelly.   Thankfully, Hufnagel was actually present at the coffee house to remind everyone that what they were watching was actually (mostly) fictional. 

In the final two acts Betts and Knight took the floor again to show off their rapping skills with a rendition of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice, Baby,” and then joined the entire student body in an all school dance number, The Cha-Cha Slide.” 

All in all, it was a great start to a new tradition, and a great chance for the students to shine, once again. 

For more information about Wayfinder Schools, call 236-3000 or visit www.wayfinderschools.org