The Flyer Life…At The Joe

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, March 28, 2009

IRONTON — Some St. Joseph High School students spent several hours of their weekend in the one place they can’t wait to leave every day: School. But this time, they were having a blast.

About 50 students, guided by directors Maria Whaley and John Lutz, took to the auditorium stage Friday and Saturday nights for the 33rd Annual St. Joseph Variety Show. To the theme of “The Flyer Life … At the Joe,” students showcased their talents through dance, music, drama and even a bit of martial arts.

Senior Madison Geswein has been participating in the variety show since her freshman year of high school. And for her last year, she went out with a bang, singing two solos, dancing a few numbers and portraying Daphne in the Scooby Doo skit.

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But for Geswein, it’s what she has been able to take from the program each year that has made it such an important part of her high-school career.

“You get to bond with everybody who participates in the show,” she said, watching a group rehearse on stage. “You get to showcase your talent in a fun way.”

Her family has made a tradition of attending the event each year, showing support for their talented relative.

As four boys belted “let’s go to the Joe” into the microphone on stage, and a group of girls danced in sync nearby, John Boykin picked his bass guitar just feet away.

John, a senior and third-year variety-show participant, was the epitome of “variety” in the show’s title. In addition to playing his guitar, which he sometimes stepped aside from to allow his little brother, Mark Boykin, to have the spotlight, John acted in the Scooby Doo skit as the ghost who eventually evolved into football player-turned-felon Michael Vick.

And that’s not all. A first-degree black belt, he stood on stage and snapped a board in half with his hand.

“I just like to perform,” John said. “Whether it be music, acting, singing — I’m just a performer.”

But the Friday and Saturday night performances were just the finales of a much larger production.

Whaley said she, Lutz and the students have been preparing for this weekend since October when they began brainstorming and writing scripts.

Every participant has been through each phase of show preparation, Whaley said, which is a point she tries to reiterate.

“I think it’s important because the kids learn to build a show from the ground up,” she said. “They are engaged in learning. For them, seeing it come to life on stage has taught them a lot about putting together a show or event.”

Whaley and Lutz devote much of their time during the school year putting the show together. And for senior Caiti Anderson, it’s a lot of extra time spent with Whaley who triples as her variety-show director, religious-studies teacher and dance instructor.

“I can’t seem to get away from her,” joked Anderson, who performed a lyrical dance for the show.

Like many of her classmates, Anderson has participated in the variety show all four years of high school. But she gets a little extra instruction from Whaley at the June Conn studio where she practices ballet.

The students are not the only ones who benefit from the annual variety show.

“So much of what we do at St. Joe is school tradition,” Whaley said.

“The variety show is just one of those traditions. Much of the crowd from last year will be the same crowd as this year.”

And although the community creates a significant turnout on performance nights, it isn’t their only role.

“We appreciate the community support we’ve had,” Whaley said.

“From Colleen Griffith who helped with vocal training to Donnette Stump who designed costumes and many others, there has been an incredible show of support.”

Although Saturday night concluded the 2009 variety show, the tradition will continue in the fall for the next batch of talented young adults.