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Livingston Community Corner

Super Bowl Highlight: LHS Students Singing with Queen Latifah

Marilyn Joyce Lehren, Livingston Public Schools

Saturday, February 1, 2014 • 11:56am

LIVINGSTON, NJ - It’s already the most-watched event in America, but between this being New Jersey’s first Super Bowl, the ads and the game itself, we can give you another good reason to tune into the Super Bowl, at 6:14 p.m. to be exact--that’s when Queen Latifah will sing “America the Beautiful” as part of the televised Super Bowl pregame show with--three LHS students singing with her.

“I was speechless when I heard,” said Irena Chiang, who performs with the New Jersey Youth Chorus with fellow Livingston High School students Isha Battu and Robin Shafto. “My mind is still blown away.”

The students sing with the New Jersey Youth Chorus, an auditioned choral program that caught the ear of Queen Latifah. She invited the 60-member choir to join her in song at MetLife Stadium. For the Livingston students, it will be a full weekend of festivities, with a dress rehearsal at MetLife and performance on the “Super Bowl Boulevard," where they perform a 30-minute concert Friday at 7:30 p.m. in New York’s Times Square.

“I’m ecstatic for Sunday,” said Chiang. “And Queen Latifah, come on!”

That alone is reason to cheer, but our schools have also been catching Super Bowl fever with their own “Souper” food drives to help tackle hunger and poverty.

While the game features the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, at Mount Pleasant Middle School, where students donated cans of soup for a local food pantry, we found students wearing jerseys for the ultimate New Jersey dream bowl -- Giants vs. Jets.

Music to Our Ears: Arts participation included on state’s annual school report cards.

The state’s annual report cards now place the arts on par with the three Rs of education, and that’s music to the ears at our schools, where the performing and visual arts have long been spotlighted. In fact, one of our alumns, Stephen Oremus won a Grammy last Sunday for Best Musical Theater Album for “Kinky Boots.”

New Jersey is the first state to include arts participation in its School Performance Reports. The reports were released on January 28 and include data on how many students are enrolled in visual and performing arts classes. These are factors, educators say, that are linked to higher graduation rates and improved student achievement.

Livingston Public Schools continue to perform “very high” when compared to schools across the state, according to the new academic performance reports released by the New Jersey Department of Education. They help provide a complete picture of school performance beyond simple test scores by identifying a range of college and career ready metrics. (The detailed information by school is available for review on the Livingston Public Schools website and can be accessed online by clicking here).

We were visiting Collins Elementary at just about the same time the School Performance Reports were being issued. At Collins, and every elementary school, it is winter concert season, where songs for these frigid nights include a variety of snow songs, delighting students with thoughts of more snow days off from school. (See a slide show of photos by clicking here).

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