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.
includes 60 students
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.
Having the time of their life
The proceeds of Rock the Halls include feelings of belonging, unity and empowerment
“Spending three hours together every week and supporting each other builds a tight bond that is clearly shown through our constant cheering for each other on show night,” said Jordyn Blachar, a junior, who will be singing “All Too Well,” by Taylor Swift, with her friend Sophie Hunsberger. “The energy that radiates throughout the theater not only during the show but at every practice is the best feeling in the world!”
Senior Maya Nelson said that she has participated in Rock the Halls since she was in seventh grade. This year, she’s singing “Iris,” by the Goo Goo Dolls, with Mia Holbrook, and accompanying many other performers on guitar. “Rock the Halls is one of my all-time most favorite things that that I will never forget about middle school and high school.”