In the words of American Idol host Ryan Seacrest: dim the lights ... and here we go.
“It’s amazing. The first day, you’re just blown away at the talent of these kids,” said Hilary Wassenich, a Grade 9 teacher at E.S. Laird Middle School.
“Some of them are very quiet in class and you don’t really see them much in the hallways, and all of a sudden they get on stage and they’re these powerful singers, it’s amazing.”
Wassenich helps co-ordinate the school’s annual Sabre Idol competition, which took place from May 4 to 8. Sabre Idol works almost identically to the popular reality TV show American Idol, which has produced stars such as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. E.S. Laird may not take its singers that far, but it does do more than just showcase musical talent.
“It helps a lot with getting your confidence up and going in front of other people,” said Niki Crockett, a Grade 9 student and member of the Sabre Idol’s Top-3.
“When I started out on Monday, I was absolutely terrified to get up in front of the school. Today, I’m not really that nervous, I’m cool to get up in front of everyone and kind of dance around a little bit and have some fun with it.”
Sabre Idol takes place at the beginning of the morning in the E.S. Laird gym, where the rest of the school gathers to watch the performances. The spectators then cast votes online or via text from their classrooms afterwards.
“I think they realize how talented the school is and how talented our students are. This is a great stage for them to showcase their talents,” said Wassenich.
Similar to the show, Sabre Idol features a host and a panel of three judges that take in and comment on each performance from a table in front of the stage.
The competition also features theme days, in which contestants have to choose a song from a particular genre of music.
“We have rock, pop, oldies, country and a choice day that they can pick from, and then each day is a different theme,” Wassenich explained.
Instead of a contract, E.S. Laird awards the winner with a prize pack from its sponsors, which includes a chance to perform at The Root: Community Emporium. The runner-up also receives a prize pack.
Sabre Idol began with nine contestants this year, but the school has held auditions in previous seasons to trim the field from a larger number. This year marked the fourth season of Sabre Idol, which is organized by the E.S. Laird Student Council.