bergenPAC Hosts 9th Annual ENGLEWOOD IDOL Tonight

Talented teen vocalists from Englewood, New Jersey will roar on to the bergenPAC stage tonight, January 10 at 7pm in the first-ever jungle-themed Englewood Idol show. The ninth annual Englewood Idol will feature 12 contestants, all high school-age students, at this fundraiser for the Dr. John Grieco Scholarship Fund.

The performers hail from four area high schools: The Dwight-Englewood School (D-E), Dwight Morrow High School (DM), the Academies @ Englewood (A@E), and Northern Highlands Regional High School (NHR). This year's judges panel will feature acclaimed judge of the TV hit show CUPCAKE WARS, Florian Bellanger, as well as a host of other local celebrities.

Auditions for Englewood Idol were open to any high school student living in, or attending school in, Englewood or Englewood Cliffs. More than 40 students auditioned and twelve talented semi-finalists were selected to perform: Dasia Capers (DM), Natalie Saldarriaga (A@E), Gina Marie Enriquez (NHR), Myshya Spencer (DM), Fabiola Zapata (A@E), Jacob Seeger (D-E), Emma Petersen (A@E), Danielle Chaney (DM), Niaree Thomas (A@E), Melanie Sunga (A@E), Julia Bront (D-E), and Daniel Pak (A@E). The show will also feature "Englewood's Best Dance Crew," a competition between dancers at Englewood's three high schools. Dwight-Englewood English teacher and Dance Club Advisor Vicky Frankel lends her choreographic talents to this competition, along with Dance Instructor Alexis Owusu, and Spanish teacher and Latin Dance Instructor Saadia Gil, both of Dwight Morrow High School and the Academies@Englewood.

Producer Judy Aronson is thrilled to see how the students have embraced this year's opportunities, especially by developing the jungle theme. "When the Idols decided to perform Katy Perry's "Roar" as their finale, the kids went wild with the idea of designing the show around a jungle theme, doing face painting and musical performances in the lobby, crafting the stage set, to be designed once again by legendary DMAE Art teacher Grace Browne and her students. And they continue to come up with amazing ideas all following this jungle theme. Even the Tshirt, designed by A@E senior Cha Yeon Hong, features a tiger with a microphone. And the kids created a new slogan - Englewood Idol - One Wild Night! They say, moving forward, they want a theme for Idol every year!

First prize for the Englewood Idol will be a recording session at NV Studios of Fort Lee, New Jersey. Second prize will be vocal coaching lessons from O.Dibella Music in Bergenfield, New Jersey. In addition, each semi-finalist will be awarded a $250 Arts Scholarship, courtesy, in part, of the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, a longtime supporter of this event.

Generous support from sponsors has brought even more interest and attention to this year's show. Students who live in Englewood Cliffs or have parents who work for LG Electronics USA helped to secure LG as the lauded Diamond Sponsor of the event. In addition, new supporter Honda of Tenafly joins with Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, NVE Bank, TD Bank, and the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation as Platinum Englewood Idol Sponsors. School of Rock in Tenafly, Englewood Attorney Robert Linder, and Ken Albert Associates are Gold Sponsors of this year's Englewood Idol. The Community Chest serving Englewood, Tenafly and Englewood Cliffs is a longtime Emerald Sponsor of the Dr. John Grieco Scholarship Fund. BergenPAC is the presenting sponsor of the show, generously affording students and staff the opportunity to present Englewood Idol in one of the most beautiful performance venues in the state. The event's sole media sponsor is the Suburbanite newspaper.

More than 75 students in the Dr. John Grieco Scholarship Fund Elective and Club, as well as 18 seniors on the Board of Trustees, work together to organize Englewood Idol. The elective class focuses on teaching students all aspects of event management, such as creating a budget, designing a marketing plan, selling tickets, Tshirts, and program ads, editing and designing the show program, running the lighting and sound booth, and overall event production. The Co-Producers of this year's show are DMAE seniors Geraldine Escandon, Jessica Surowiec, Nicholas Sarria, Janelle Shepherd, and Soindos Abdah. For the second year in a row, the Musical Director of the show is Melanie Sunga, who will also perform as a semi-finalist on the night of the show. The Director is DMAE Language Arts teacher Mindy Rochman, and the Technical Director is DMAE Information Systems teacher Mitchell Ravitz. Students once again hope to raise $5,000 through this event, which is expected to top the attendance record of more than 1,300 people at last year's show.

Englewood Idol is the largest annual fundraiser for students of the Dr. John Grieco Scholarship Fund, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit charity run by students at DMHS and A@E. The late Dr. John Grieco, for whom the Scholarship Fund was named, was the Englewood Public School Superintendent who spearheaded the creation of the Academies @ Englewood as well as other initiatives bringing educational reform and greater opportunities for students in the Englewood Public Schools. The Scholarship Fund named in his memory serves to continue his efforts to create a campus unifying the students of Dwight Morrow High School and the Academies @ Englewood. Students, parents and staff have come to see Englewood Idol as more than a musical competition; it is a way for Englewood's high school students to connect with each other on a different level, outside of the classroom, doing something they love.

The classic black and white Englewood Idol T-shirts, graced with sapphire blue glitter this year, are available for $10, and Englewood Idol sweatpants are available for $20. Tickets to Englewood Idol can be purchased in the main offices of Dwight Morrow High School and the Academies@Englewood. Advance tickets are $7 for students and $10 for adults; tickets at the door will be $10 for students and $15 for adults. Those interested in purchasing tickets, T-shirts, or sweatpants, or wishing to support the Dr. John Grieco Scholarship Fund, can call 201-294-0725, email, or visit the student-created website

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