Kids helping kids making miracles!
From the initial dance scenes onward, the hard work and teamwork applied by students in the Mr. and Miss Gervais Pageant were readily apparent Saturday evening.
A few of the event's more touching momets also furnished clues to the catalyst driving those students.
All told, a packed Gervais High School Auditorium was treated with a variety show, complete with comedy skits, a wide range of music, including singing, some heart-string moments and another $10.6-plus grand added to the more than $200,000 the school has donated to Doernbecher Children's Hospital over the past 19 years.
The crowning moment saw Alejandro Contreras and Abigail Saalfeld dubbed "Mr. and Miss Gervais." The lead up to the pinnacle moment provided a mix of presentations:Jamie Roberts joined with other students to satire a 6th-grade classroom's "Stranger Danger" message, acting out an instigating contrarian while sending the admonishing speaker from police into disarray; Kevin Borja playing all three roles – Tiny, Nine and Stu – in a skit set in a vehicle, "A Trip to the State Fair;" Regena Vargas, a.k.a. "Our Little Dancer," amusing the audience as a miniaturized dancer, "kicking" up various contortions from a concocted puppet-theater stage; Cesar Santos teamed with two amigos to take stage in togas while bearing porcelain pitchers of water in "My Heart Will Go On," ultimately spouting the contents while showering the audience with laughter; Veronica Esquivel-Barrera delivering a quick knockout as the contestants selected a sport to present; Jonathan Cruz Lopez taking stage in a zesty salsa dance routine, joined by his mother, Maria Lopez Martinez, as they delivered a coordinated, swift-stepping duet; Saalfeld crooning a melodious rendition of Adele's "When We Were Young;" she was also this year's top fundraiser, bringing in $3,512.50; Contreras barking out a subtly-clever spoof of a motivational speaker, "A Few Words of Encouragement," a believable dialogue that was seemingly laced with every single platitude used in the realm of such presentations.
Throughout the widely varied scenes and wardrobes, pageant coordinators, juniors Brianna Steinlicht and Kambria Ifft, smoothly narrated through the transitions, at times applying some aptly clean and cutesy humor:
Ifft: What do you call a can opener that doesn't work?
Steinlicht: "I don't know, what?
Ifft: "A can't opener."
Appropriate to the community atmosphere, each contestant took stage with younger relatives to model casual wear provided by J.C. Penny, and with a parent to model the formal wear provided by Mr. Formal and David's Bridal.
But as much as the individual segments were fun and amusing, the collective deliveries, especially in the wealth of dance routines, were salient. In advance the group emphasized a teamwork approach as their stamp on this year's event (the four girls and one coordinator even play softball together), and that was evident from the onset.
Reason for being
Some poignant moments included a slide-show tribute to Jovita Reyes, a former Gervais student and Doernbecher patient who passed in 2000 at the young age of 16, spiriting the formation of the pageant. The contestants visited the hospital in November, and in a slide-show of that visit, they sought and found the memorial brick on the grounds etched with Jovita Reyes name.
That visit was etched in the contestants' understanding as they toiled tirelessly these past months to conjointly present and continue a point of pride to the Gervais community: the Mr. and Miss Gervais Pageant.
"That visit definitely reminded us that this is what it is all for," Saalfeld said, "giving everyone an understanding that this is why we are doing all this."
"Yes, it was very moving," he said. "My aunt (Anita) was a patient that the hospital when she was young. So, seeing the hospital that saved my aunt's life was a very emotional experience for me."
Saalfeld added, "It's an honor to represent the school and community, and this and the visit to Doernbecher's opened everyone's eyes."
The students also opened some eyes, laughter tracks and wallets Saturday. They perhaps stated their mission best on stage in a collective dance when they turned their backs to the audience, donning t-shirts with one word on each back, together spelling "We are kids helping kids making miracles!"