Elvis, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis all converged on Tuesday morning in a slim rock ‘n’ roller named Joel Brantley.
The earth moved. Or at least, the gym floor did, the way those Chester Elementary School kids hollered, clapped and sang along with “Rockin’ Robin,” “Great Balls of Fire” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
Fourth-grader Tracy Jackson blushed and ducked her head when Brantley dropped to one knee in front of her for a line of “All Shook Up.” Second-grader Christopher Malsam soloed with Brantley’s microphone for a line of the Lion King song. Fifth-grader Jessica Schmedding had particularly smooth moves on stage with a pink inflatable guitar and four other “Splish Splash Dudes and Dudettes.”
Normally sedate teachers boogied, too. Fourth-grade teacher Joan Howard let loose with a mean pair of chicken wings.
But this was rock ‘n’ roll with a message, one that comes straight from the Spokane native’s life: Follow your dream by staying in school - right through college. And remember that drugs and dreams don’t mix.
“Let me tell you a story,” said Brantley, a 1985 University High School graduate. He waited a moment for his young audience to settle out of their rock ‘n’ roll high.
“When I was eight years old, one night my mom let me stay up past my bedtime and watch Elvis on TV. I had heard him before, but it was the first time I had ever seen him.” Brantley was impressed with the smiles, the happiness Elvis spread in his audience.
So came the start of Brantley’s dream.
As a seventh-grader at North Pines Junior High, he turned down another boy’s invitation to take drugs. “I chose not to fit in with that crowd.”
Brantley learned all he could about the early rock ‘n’ roll stars. During college, he took a year off to pursue singing in Las Vegas. And he paid his way through Eastern Washington University, singing at clubs around Spokane. After graduating with a degree in construction engineering, with minors in music and communications, he headed to Nashville.
The big time hasn’t yet happened. So five years ago, while working on other musical projects, Brantley decided to shape a show for school children around early rock ‘n’ roll.
He knew some sort of positive message would help open school doors for him. He knew that college and staying away from drugs had worked for him. So his own life choices became the underpinnings for his performance.
“How many of you want to go to college?” Brantley asked the Chester students.
A forest of arms shot up.
“How many of you have dreams out there?” he asked. “C’mon sixth-graders. I know you’ve got ‘em. Everybody’s got ‘em.
“Way back when I was eight years old, my dream was to be a singer and make people smile.”
“Cool!” muttered a nearby fifth-grader.
“Do you think my dream came true?”
Clearly it has. And next thing you knew, Brantley, plus about 438 children and 25 teachers, were shaking the earth again, with a rolicking, stomping version of “Pretty Woman.”
West Valley DECA winners
Seven West Valley High School seniors qualified in state DECA competition for nationals.
Statewide DECA competition was in Bellevue, earlier this month.
Qualifiers were Kara Foss, who won in services marketing; Brittani Gomer and Abby Monasmith, team hospitality and tourism; Tia Gregorak, state parliamentarian; Andrea Hagarty, retail research written project; Bonnie Krous, vehicles and petroleum and Molly Ormsby, food marketing research, written event.
Nationals are in Denver during the last week of April.
Senior Citizen Dance at EV
Senior citizens are invited to a dance with big band music by the East Valley High School Jazz Band. The dance will be from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the high school commons.
This will be the third annual Senior Citizens Dance, organized by SOCS, Student Oriented Community Services, an EVHS program. Admission is free. The event includes games and refreshments. For more information, call SOCS director Lynn Lauer at 927-3200.
Valley Christian auction
Valley Christian School’s third annual auction on March 28 will offer everything from lumber and labor to build a children’s playhouse to a snowmobile, a four-wheeler and a Jet-Ski - all to raise as much as $40,000 for computer equipment for the school.
The event runs from 6 to 10 p.m. at the school. Admission is $8, which buys a chicken box lunch and dessert.
Last year’s auction raised $20,000. The money helps special project costs, which tuition does not cover. The 23-year-old, nondenominational school teaches more than 425 students.
Info on new testing
East Valley School District parents can learn about the new state learning standards and the new upcoming tests for fourth- and seventh-graders on March 26.
The meeting, which runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m., will be in the East Valley High School library.
West Valley School District parents are invited to a similar meeting on March 31 at the West Valley High School. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.
Fourth-graders and most seventh-graders across the state will take the tests this spring. Tenth-graders in Central Valley, East Valley and West Valley will take a pilot version of their state test. No scores will be received on the 10th-graders.
Central Valley School District is also holding information nights on the essential learnings. Contact your school for more information.
Business winners at CV
Twenty-four Central Valley High School students have qualified for state competition in Future Business Leaders of America.
Among those students, four won first place in their events at the regional competition on Feb. 11 at Spokane Community College.
Tara Lashaw and Alaisha Freimuth won in business graphics, a team event, Emily Crossen won in introduction to business and Bethany Flenniken won in introduction to business communications.
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MEMO: The Education Notebook is the spot The Valley Voice devotes to telling our community about students’ accomplishments, about learning in classrooms across the Valley. Teachers or parents whose students have earned honors, feel free to toot your horn. Contact Marny Lombard at the Valley Voice, 13208 E. Sprague, Spokane, WA 99216. Call: 927-2166. Fax: 927-2175. E-mail: MarnyL@spokesman.com