65 Staten Island students beam for the St. George Theater Outreach Program presentation and awards ceremony

STATEN ISLAND, New York — The stage at the St. George Theater was lit up Friday with 65 smiling Staten Island student performers for a talent show that marked the culmination of the 2022 Summer Dance, Drama and Literacy program.

Each year, the St. George Theater hosts a FREE program for young people aged 9 to 18 designed to improve their game when it comes to personal achievement and well-being. The presentation was attended by the students’ family and friends, followed by an awards ceremony.

Students are awarded achievement awards and three scholarships for a year’s dance attendance at Mrs. Rosemary’s Dance Studio. The winners are Mikayla Cappillo, Richie Francis are Nyya Mack.

In the presentation, all students performed the dances, songs and spoken word pieces they had worked so hard to learn in the program including: “Fame” inspired by Debbie Allen, “Spirit” inspired by Alvin Ailey, “Break My Soul” . and “Break My Sou” by Beyonce, “Swan Lake” inspired by Misty Copeland, “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou and “Change Sings” by Amanda Gorman and “Respect” by Aretha Franklin.

“I had a great time in this program because everyone was very nice and I learned a lot,” said student Noah Ocasio. “I like to sing and dance and the other children and the teachers are very nice. I enjoyed the entire two weeks.”

This program began in 2004 when Mrs. Rosemary and her daughters, Doreen Cugno and Luanne Sorrentino, invited neighborhood youth to learn about dance and drama, and has grown into a high-impact youth program funded by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Con Edison is funded annually. In attendance were Amanda Straniere and Mateamarie Vento, Specialists in Staten Island Regional & Community Affairs.

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Students from the 2022 Summer Outreach Program at the St. George Theater pose for a photo in the historic theater’s grand lobby. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

Staff and faculty who worked with the students included Maya Burke, Tom Cintula, Anna Polyachenko, Alyssa Rowan, Grace Acquilano, Rose Cugno, Elizabeth DeLeo, Kate DiScalo, and Leila Polio.

“Our goal is to share our knowledge of the arts with our students, while inspiring, motivating, enriching and educating,” said Doreen Cugno, co-founder of St. George Theater and President and CEO of St. George Theater Restoration. “The 65 students learned many dance techniques while being introduced to theatre, music and much more.

“Classes included modern, ballet, hip-hop, music, singing, spoken word, musical theatre, dance history, audition preparation and performance.”

The theme of this year’s program was “Inspiring Icons in Music and Dance”. From Aretha Franklin to Beyoncé, Alvin Ailey to Misty Copeland and more, students have spent the last 50 years exploring the role of influencers in music and dance and have been exposed to a variety of disciplined courses in dance and theater to gain confidence in the real world .

“From the beginning, our goal has been to enrich the lives of our students and inspire interest in the arts,” said Luanne Sorrentino, co-founder of St. George Theatre. “Days like today validate the importance of arts programs for our youth and we are beyond thrilled that we have been able to contribute in our own way through dance, music, spoken word and theatre.

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Pictured are students of the 2022 Summer Outreach program at St George’s Theater with Dr. Gracelyn Santos, Board Member, Amanda Straniere and Mateamarie Vento, Specialists, Staten Island Regional & Community Affairs (standing, left) and Doreen Cugno and Luanne Sorrentino, co-founders of St. George Theater, standing right. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SUMMER OUTREACH PROGRAM

The 65 students received a book bag full of fun and enriching books about dance, theatre, famous artists, healthy living, city planting and positivity, all designed to motivate and inspire. Fan favorite books were The Life of Misty Copeland, Aretha Franklin and Alvin Ailey. The students were given the opportunity to read ‘fun work’ with the books in addition to practicing their dance and voice techniques.

“Con Edison is proud to support the St. George Theater and its Summer Outreach program,” said Con Edison’s Amanda Straniere. “For more than ten years we have watched this workshop ignite a passion for dance, poetry and art, culminating in a beautiful performance.

“What these students can accomplish in just two weeks is incredible. Thank you to the amazing team at St George Theater and Bravo to the students!”

On a special day of the program, Board Member Dana Walker-Boyd spent time with the amazing Summer Outreach students to share their expertise on gardening tips, experience gardening and learn how they relieve stress, be a source of community and happiness and help can make healthier eating habits. In addition, the participants learned how to garden in their own room and were given herbs and vegetables as gifts.

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Noah Ocasio poses for a picture in front of the St. George Theater Outreach Program student showcase. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

To the delight of the students, everyone was invited to come back and enjoy the performances at the theater. The 2022 lineup includes boys and dolls presented by In the Wings; Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; and the annual The Christmas Show at the St George Theatre.

In addition, students will enjoy The true story of the 3 little pigs! repeated by Illuminart on July 30th. Students will also return later in the year to take part in a new extracurricular program for masterclasses in dance and drama.

August 2nd is St. George Theater Day at the FerryHawks Game at SIUH Community Park and students will perform for the audience and then enjoy the game with their families.

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Pictured are students of the 2022 Summer Outreach Program at the St. George Theater with Amanda Straniere and Mateamarie Vento, specialists in Staten Island Regional & Community Affairs, and Doreen Cugno and Luanne Sorrentino, co-founders of the St. George Theatre. Students are holding books that have enhanced their program education. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

STARS OF OUR SHOW

The 2022 St. George Theater Outreach Program participants are Olivia Barry, Anthony Barry Jr, Alia Maria Beach, Damali Browne, Onuora Browne, Amaya Bunch, Vikayla Cappillo, Migdalia Cintron, Elizabeth Cruz, Samantha DeSatnick, Olivia DiLeo, Carol DiNapoli, Christina DiNapoli, Ella Ehrlich, Safiya Ettu, Gianna Fiduccia, Nataly Flores, Richie Francis, Ariel Gonzalez, Emilee Henry, Andrea Hernandez, Anastasia Howard, Gavin Hui and Milani Jackson.

Also: Meghan Jessnik, Patrick Jessnik, Liam LeFurge, Janelle Lima, Alexa Lima, Nyya Mack, Mikayla Matos, Alexandria McBeth, Ariana Mendez, Annalia Miller, Ava Murray, Grace Murray, Daniel Noumi, Maya O’Brien, Noah Ocasio, Kaylee Olguin, Jade Perez, Peter Romano, Claire Scala, M’Qayla Stokley, Aryana Vazquez, Aliya Vazquez, Alyvia Vazquez, Gianna Veloz, Savannah Venditto and Maxymilian Zygmanski.

Soloists include: Richie Francis, Mikayla Matos, Annalia Miller; Ella Ehrlich, Liam LeFurge, Grace Murray, Daniel Noumi, Savannal; Samantha DeSatnick, Maya O’Brien, Noah Ocasio, Mikayla Matos; Mikayla Cappillo and Jade Perez.

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Safiya Ettu and AliaMaria Beach, students of the 2022 Summer Outreach Program at the St. George Theatre, pose for a photo minutes before their performance and present their work. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Tom Cintula, faculty member of the 2022 Summer Outreach Program at the St. George Theatre, speaks to students minutes before her performance. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Students from the 2022 Summer Outreach Program at St George’s Theater shine on stage for their show at the historic theater. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Milani Jackson, a student in the 2022 Summer Outreach Program at the St. George Theatre, smiles for the camera. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Students from the 2022 Summer Outreach Program at St George’s Theater shine on stage for their show at the historic theater. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Students from the 2022 Summer Outreach Program at St George’s Theater shine on stage for their show at the historic theater. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Students from the 2022 Summer Outreach Program at St George’s Theater shine on stage for their show at the historic theater. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Students from the 2022 Summer Outreach Program at St George’s Theater shine on stage for their show at the historic theater. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Students from the 2022 Summer Outreach Program at St George’s Theater shine on stage for their show at the historic theater. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Students from the 2022 Summer Outreach Program at St George’s Theater shine on stage for their show at the historic theater. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

dr  Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance

Students from the 2022 Summer Outreach Program at St George’s Theater shine on stage for their show at the historic theater. (Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)

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