The last day of school is traditionally loosely structured. Students say goodbye to their favorite teachers, sign each other’s yearbooks and think about plans for summer vacation before they are released early.
At Bowdish Middle School in the Central Valley School District, Principal Dave Bouge and his staff have found a way to keep the kids engaged and in the building until the very last minute – a talent show.
Bouge said the annual event is a fun reason for the kids to come to school on that last day, but it’s also a fun way to end.
He said about 30 acts auditioned for the show and the staff narrowed that number to about 12.
“Some of them really have some talent,” he said of his students.
There were gymnasts and singers, songwriters and a rock band.
“Their talents just come out,” said Assistant Principal Maureen Weisbeck.
Language arts and history teacher Jeff VanHorne led the show wearing a suit jacket and tie, plus shorts and bright orange shoes.
“It’s a formal event,” he told them, “Yet it’s going to be summer today.”
VanHorne said many students think all year about performing in the talent show. They hold auditions about two weeks before the show and VanHorne said he helps the students with their performance during rehearsals.
He tells them, “just relax and enjoy it. Smile and enjoy the moment.”
Jamison Sampson wrote an original song and performed it on his guitar. Arianna Birch wrote her own song and performed it on the piano.
Last year, she played the violin while jumping on a pogo stick.
Gymnasts Rebecca Shepard and Meghan House performed gymnastics routines. Izzy Ropp, Kaitlyn Oxford and Tessa Garrison all sang solos, while a fourth-grader, Faith Oxford, who has sung “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Spokane Shock games, sang the anthem at the beginning of the show and a duet with her older sister, Kaitlyn.
There was also Michael Hoekema on drums and Nathanial Fennen on guitar. The two jammed on an Avenged Sevenfold song and closed out the show with their cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
“I feel like we need to rock out to end it,” VanHorne told the students.
Between acts, Bouge awarded certificates for perfect attendance, and teacher-librarian Ann Warner gave students awards for meeting reading goals over the year. Readers who had received 500 or more points were entered into a drawing and the winner received a new bike and helmet.
When the show was over, the eighth-graders, who will enter high school next year, left the gym for the school courtyard where their teachers were waiting to say goodbye to them.
There were some tears but a lot of laughter and excitement in the courtyard. Each student received an ice cream bar to enjoy during their last moments of middle school.