Rock the Halls

The supportive environment creates magic

“Support your friends and fellow rockers! Sing backup!” That message, scribbled on a flip chart, is one of the first things students see when they head backstage at John Jay Middle School’s Theater. It’s been there since January and will stay through showtime, when Rock the Halls fills the space with screaming guitars, belting vocals and a lot of laughter.

The supportive environment is what creates the magic.

The 14th annual Rock the Halls concert is Friday, May 19, at 6:30 pm at John Jay Middle School's Theater. [TICKETS] The audience will enjoy over two dozen performances by students from John Jay Middle and High Schools. But for the sixty students involved, the show is only one part of larger experience of camaraderie, community and celebration. 

An opportunity for students to be together and be there for each other

Sixth grader Sammy Mishler has never attended Rock the Halls before, but she’ll be onstage singing "Still into You," by Paramore, with Katelyn Rogan. “I’m excited and nervous to be in front of a huge crowd,” said Sammi. She said that she knows it will be fun because her teacher, Mr. Weiss, is playing the drums.

The house band, made up of middle school teachers Jesse Weiss and David Fritsch, Katonah Elementary School teacher Craig Jettelson and friends, adds to the feeling of family.

Weiss calls the night an unbelievably unique experience—a highlight of which is working with the kids and watching them grow year to year. “You know you've got something special when high school students are willing to take the time to not only participate in a middle school event, but mentor the middle school performers,” said Weiss.

“I've been participating in Rock the Halls since sixth grade when I had Mr. Weiss as my math and science teacher,” said sophomore Lucas Mongiello, who will be performing “It's Still Rock and Roll to Me,” by Billy Joel, with junior Jesse Collins. He’s also the show’s photographer.

“I love that we can all have a fun time and perform with each other regardless of what grade we are in and still continue to rock out with the teachers we had in elementary and middle school,” said Lucas.