Local officials and actresses from the hit Broadway Musical “Wicked” joined Teaneck Community Charter School students and staff Friday to celebrate the school being awarded a grand prize in NBC’s "Smash" Make a Musical program.
The win will bring nationally recognized master theater teachers to the school to lead two workshops for teachers and students as they produce a show from Music Theatre International’s Broadway Junior collection. At the end of the program, multiple public performances will be staged for the school and local community.
Broadway performers Donna Vivino and Kate Fahrner, who star as witches in the popular production “Wicked,” sang for the crowd, as did TCCS alumna and 2010 Teaneck Teen Idol winner Sumner Perera. Area officials congratulated more than 300 elementary and middle school students and TCCS’s faculty and staff.
Teaneck Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin offered congratulatory remarks on behalf of the township. He urged students to embrace the arts and to follow their dreams and passions.
“In times of educational hardships, when it’s time to choose how we spend our money on education, it seems like the arts always takes a backseat,” Hameeduddin said. “And the Teaneck Community Charter School has made a commitment to the arts.”
According to a press release, the philanthropic initiative, sponsored by NBC’s musical drama “Smash” and administered by iTheatrics’ Junior Theater Project, helps select schools across the United States with staging productions and implementing self-sustaining theater programs.
More than 1,000 schools applied for the fall 2010 musical program, and 30 finalists were selected by iTheatrics’ Junior Theater Project, stated the press release. Out of 250,000 votes cast nationwide, TCCS rallied for more than 12,000 of those votes.
Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan praised the school community for the number of votes they received.
“On behalf of the 905,000 residents of Bergen County, I say congratulations to you,” Donovan said. “Teaneck Community Charter School is leading the way on this, and we support you, and we’re glad you’re here.”
TCCS Principal Billy Bowie said the school constantly looks for ways to help students reach their full potential.
“Our arts curriculum challenges children to be creative, to be themselves, and to view the world through a new lens,” he stated. “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make a Musical grant will provide us an opportunity to change the course of our student’s lives – that’s what education is all about.”
Although unable to attend, state Sen. Loretta Weinberg praised the school in a statement read at the event.
“TCCS is an exemplary model of charter school education in New Jersey,” she said. “Your record of solid performance for over a decade has produced replicable methods of teaching and students who have excelled in high school and beyond – all in the spirit of the original legislation. I applaud the inclusion of an arts-infused curriculum into the regular programming at Teaneck Community Charter School.”
Along with highlighting their musical grant, TCCS also announced that they’re raising money to complete a Creative Arts Suite on the school’s second floor. TCCS’s Parent/Teacher Organization offered their support with a check for $20,000, which was presented on stage to a Board of Trustee official.
Anyone interested in making a donation to the Creative Arts Suite can do so online at tccsnj.org.
First published Friday June 22 at 6 p.m.