“Puttin on the Ritz”
A Shining Night of Student Entertainment
by Lea Michelle Cash
While our nation remains transfixed on Washington’s Mueller Report, the Rialto Unified School District (RUSD) and its administration focused on honoring amazing students and their contributions to the performing arts. Why? Community service never feels like an obligation or chore when it comes to doing the right thing for RUSD’s students.
Things kicked off in sparkling Hollywood fashion on Saturday, April 21 with the 14th Annual “Puttin on the Ritz” Fine Arts Gala.
Since the event’s inception, thousands of dollars have been raised to support classroom teachers, their students, and the district wide fine arts programs.
The gala event also features a silent auction. Tables are lined with awesome baskets filled with purchased and donated items gathered by students, parents, staff and teachers to help raise funds for the cause. It is a beautiful testimony to the district’s best and brightest shining stars, supported by the RUSD Board, Gala Committee, volunteers, parents, and community sponsors. All this glitter matters, and RUSD students were ready to take center stage and dazzle a packed audience dressed in black-tie attire.
Jeff Pope, a morning host on radio’s Hot 103.9 was the evening emcee, and the gala was held at the Wilmer A. Carter High School Theatre Hall. Cherlynn Taran, a special education teacher, received the evening’s highest honor, “The Top Hat” Award, for devoting countless hours over 13 years, volunteering as a committee member in coordinating the silent auction baskets and sales.
The Gala committee chair and district spokesperson, Syeda Jafri said, “Only nurturing young minds and strengthening the values of our RUSD children can we give them an opportunity to be proactive, compassionate, and responsible citizens.” She thanked everyone for helping RUSD students by encouraging their dreams as echoed by the RUSD Superintendent Dr. Cuauhtemoc Avila who remarked, “It is well known in academic circles that the fine arts significantly contribute to higher levels of student academic performances.”
To the delight of a packed theatre filled with VIPs and dignitaries, the students danced and sang their hearts out during a two- and half-hour smooth operation.
The opening act of the gala had the feel of a Broadway production featuring The Ike Singers under the direction of Eisenhower High School Choir Director Stefanie Chamberlain. The closing act of the evening was a beautiful version by Ike senior Tamarin Williams of “Never Enough” from the movie “The Greatest Showman.”
The student’s ambition, talent and drive was visually over the top, as 8 and 10 years olds danced, culturally proud in Mexican Ballet Folklorico to Werner Elementary students singing and reciting poetic words to Andra Day’s “Rise Up.”
It was a wonderful magical night as the talent ranged from variety to musical performances to cultural dance. It was a night of standing ovations, community excellence, school and teacher pride, and very proud devoted parenting.