Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

April 26, 2005 > All That Jazz

All That Jazz

by Mekala Raman

This year's 10th annual Jazz Dance, sponsored by the Mission San Jose High School (MSJHS) Performing Arts Department, was held on April 8 at the Marriott Hotel in Fremont. People from near and far enjoyed delicious entrees and wonderful music to the theme of "Singing in the Rain."

The program was initiated by parents looking for a way to raise funds to help finance the band's 1997 trip to Paris. The event had a slightly less than perfect start when it was held at MSJHS, sprawled across the amphitheatre, Little Theatre, and the courtyard. Seven years ago, the Marriott Hotel stepped in and donated space and food, improving the setting for the Jazz Dance.

"It's really nice that the Marriott helps out. We used to do it [the Jazz Dance] in the Little Theatre, but it's a lot easier to set things up in the Marriott and it is a lot nicer," said
Chris Booras, director of Theatre Operations at Ohlone College and a MSJHS alumnus. The Marriott has since continued donating space for this event.

The MSJHS band is a collection of skilled musicians who take either band or orchestra classes during regular school days and have been selected to join the elite after-school jazz band. A group of talented student vocalists also sang solo songs with the band.

"This is a wonderful example of the very talented people we have throughout the district," said Fremont Unified School District board president Peggy Herndon.

Claudia Ford, a math teacher at MSJHS, agreed and said that it is, "essential for well-rounded students to show that they are not just good at English or Calculus."

Intense preparation goes into making the Jazz Band. Musicians work with band director Monica Kraft and vocal director Lee Glover to achieve the best delivery of the rich jazz pieces. The tech students help build decorations and other enhancements under the tutelage of drama director Anne Riley.

"This is the most amazing night-production we do at Mission. The students start as freshman and work until their senior year to specialize in their particular area and help make the Jazz Dance what it is. It is an opportunity for them to work as peers with adults," Riley said.

As Lara Lenta, a Mission San Jose alumna, said, "Everyone here is family. You don't have to be related to someone to show that you care."

Not only is this event a chance to support the drama department, but it is also a wonderful cultural experience that allows students to showcase their skills.

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