CITL in Port Ewen Talent Show Sparks Joy and Camaraderie

CITL in Port Ewen Talent Show Sparks Joy and Camaraderie

Over 30 students took part in a talent show at the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) in Port Ewen. During the event, Shawn Diehl, a junior from Onteora Central School District who was the emcee for the second year, exclaimed, "This is more than a community; this is a family!" triggering applause and cheers that filled the gymnasium and spilled into the hallways. Talents shared ranged from singing and dancing to playing musical instruments, sharing original videos, performing student-written puppet show skits, and demonstrating agility through an obstacle course.

Special education teacher, Mary Keiser, who organized the talent show, remarked, "It's a lot of work, but seeing the kids from different communities come together to celebrate and uplift each other makes all the long hours worth it."

The chosen songs by the students showcased a variety of singing talents, from classics by Frank Sinatra to recent hits. One student even performed an original song she wrote as part of the Music Ascension program offered at CITL, which is a songwriting and recording program offered to students that guides them in writing and recording an original song and culminates with an event at the end of the school year. Last year their music was compiled on a digital platform.

While some students preferred solo acts, there were also group performances, including one where students and staff dressed identically in blue with sunglasses and headbands. Throughout, the common theme was mutual support and encouragement, echoing the emcee's sentiments.

Reflecting on the event, first-year principal Christina Rutella said, "This experience reaffirmed why I'm here. I'm privileged to be part of these students' lives and to provide a safe space where all our students can shine, regardless of their background. We ended the day in a staff circle, sharing one word to describe our feelings about the talent show. Joy was unanimous among all our staff."

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