RHS Performing Arts Students Showcase Spectacular Talent at Eighth Grade Orientation Assembly


Michele Adriano de Oliviera

RHS dancers perform their traditional Spirit Week hip-hop routine at this year’s eighth grade orientation assembly, which was held in the high school auditorium on Monday, Feb. 7, 2023.

Brett Shuster, Staff Reporter

As part of the high school’s annual orientation for current eight graders, the Dance Department, A Capella Ensemble and Wind Ensemble joined forces to showcase the endless talent of students in the RHS Performing Arts program in a brief but stellar performance during school on Monday, Feb. 7.

Hosted by Tomorrow’s Leaders, the exhibition began with the pulsating beat of the Marching Rams Drumline, which was reminiscent of the perfectly synchronized music heard at football games, as the middle schoolers found their seats in anticipation of the show.

After RHS Principal Jessica Baxter and Dean of Students Lindsay Reilly welcomed audience members, the A Capella Ensemble, led by Matthew Swiss, performed a moving rendition of the National Anthem, which is traditionally sung at the high’s school’s annual Spirit Week Pep Rally and graduation ceremony. The performance featured beautiful harmonies as well as four student ASL interpreters.

“I think it’s so important to feature the aspect of accessibility in the arts that we work so hard to promote here at the high school,” senior interpreter Melanie Hutchinson said. “We got a lot of questions about both choir and ASL, and I’m excited to see both programs grow.”

The prestigious RHS Wind Ensemble performed next, playing a familiar medley from the popular movie, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” By experiencing the most advanced ensemble in the music program firsthand, the eighth-grade students got to see just how far motivated student musicians could take their talent and skills over time.

The Band staff, hoping to expand the program over the next few years, was eager to showcase the fact that “incoming freshmen can look forward to many things if they choose to be in Band. We are currently planning an overnight trip for the Spring of 2024 which students will enjoy,” said Nick Fantazzi, director of Wind Ensemble and Marching Band. Fantazzi noted the high school also offers different extra-curricular options outside of the band class, including Marching Band, Jazz Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble.

After this elegantly polished performance, members of the RHS Dance Department, led by Dance Teacher Michele Adriano de Oliviera, took to the stage with their lively Spirit Week hip-hop routine. Dancers from all classes performed a more abbreviated routine to popular songs such as “Pon de Replay” by Rihanna, with each class dancing to a different song with choreography matching their specific dance experience levels: Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced. The Department’s culminating routine to “Azukita” by Daddy Yankee featured all three classes dancing together.

“The dance department is a warm and welcoming environment,” Adriano said. “We have a lot of fun and work incredibly hard. There is so much preparation that goes into learning choreography for our annual dance showcase. It is a great way to stay active, have fun, meet new people and most importantly, perform great choreography on the RHS stage. We hope to see some fresh new faces in the department next year.”

After witnessing the spectacular talent of these dedicated performing arts students, the eighth graders were taken on tours of the high school led by students in the Tomorrow’s Leaders program, which employs select seniors each year to assist underclassmen in their transition to high school. The assembly, which left the younger students’ eyes sparkling with excitement, was truly an invaluable opportunity for them to enjoy a brief taste of all that RHS has to offer.