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Valentine’s Day Dessert Theater raises funds for vocal ensemble

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CLAYTON — This community has been sweet on a Valentine’s Day-related event since Thousand Islands Central High School music teacher Kathyrn Ingerson began the tradition in 1998.

“It started out as a fundraising project and has turned into a huge community event that people on the river look forward to each year,” she said.

The annual Valentine’s Day Dessert Theater and Silent Auction to benefit the high school’s Select Vocal Ensemble is Wednesday, the evening before Valentine’s Day, in the school’s auditorium. Mrs. Ingerson hopes to fill the auditorium to its capacity of 500. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. — 45 minutes before the show — for bidding, desserts and coffee.

The event consistently raises between $3,500 and $4,500 each year. Funds are used for the Vocal Ensemble to attend judged competitions. This year, the 20-member ensemble will attend April’s Worldstrides Heritage Performance festival in New York City. The Thousand Islands Vocal Ensemble performs at Riverside Church in the Bronx during the festival.

Last year the Vocal Ensemble competed in two categories, mixed choir and women’s choir, and won top “gold” honors in both groups.

“I work them very hard, but in the end they appreciate the satisfaction that comes with it,” Mrs. Ingerson said.

At the competitions, students focus on classical pieces. But the spotlight is on popular music at the annual Valentine’s Day Dessert Theater and Silent Auction.

“Over the years, it has become bigger and better with a higher quality,” Mrs. Ingerson said. “The kids know what they are stepping into.”

She said that when she began the tradition, she decided that it would have a pit band, made up of local professionals, and the students also would dance. The show’s choreography is arranged by Eileen Hauck, who operates a dance studio in Clayton.

Mrs. Ingerson begins developing the program each September. Rehearsals, which include several Saturdays, begin in January.

“This is one of the events that the kids look forward to the most each year,” Mrs. Ingerson said. “It’s so different from anything else we do.”

Desserts at the event are from local vendors. Silent auction items, ranging from artwork to gift cards from big-box stores, also come from the community, but in past years they also have included items like an iPod engraved by Yoko Ono, an item signed by humorist Dave Berry and NASCAR memorabilia.

This year’s musical highlights range from the 1962 hit “Do You Love Me” by the Contours; “Sad Day” by Daniel Powter; “21 Guns” by Green Day; “Aquarius” by the 5th Dimension and the 1940s hit “You Make Me Feel So Young.” The pit band will perform two jazz numbers.

Mrs. Ingerson said the show also will include “nostalgic twists that will take you back to some of your favorite TV shows from the ’60s and ’70s.”

“There’s something appealing for each age group,” she said.

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Members of the Thousands Islands Central High School Vocal Ensemble: Chelsea Smith, Alicia Fitzsimmons, Maria Cipullo, Kevin O’Connor, Erick Lange, Darien Frederick, Ruth Briggs, Amie Ferguson, Kyala Clegg, Schuyler Withington, Paige Durdon, Noelle Flynt, Megan Ferguson, Jason Bickford, Michael Campany, McKenna Schnauber, Noelle Rogers, Mariah Turner, Maura Warren and Lucero Gamez.

the details
WHAT: Annual Valentine’s Day Dessert Theater and Silent Auction to benefit the Thousand Islands Central High School Vocal Ensemble.
WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. Wednesdayat the Thousand Islands High School auditorium, 8481 County Road 9, Clayton. Doors open at 6:15.
COST: Tickets are $8 each or $15 for two.
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