COLUMBIA — The energy was rhythmic and upbeat while teachers tested microphones at Jefferson Middle School on Friday evening. "Back in Love Again" by L.T.D. blasted through the speakers as parents and kids filled the seats of the red and white auditorium.
This was the first year of the Fabulous Follies, a talent competition that revives an old tradition and that educators hope will become a new trademark for the middle school.
Acts included singing, dancing and piano playing by students and faculty.
Abby Ostempowski and Sami Fierke won first place with a singing and dancing performance of Macklemore's "Can't Hold Us."
The runner-up was an acoustic performance of Jason Mraz's pop hit "I'm Yours," presented by Sarah Stelzer, Amara Shocks and Grace Kirk. The trio were surprised when they heard they'd placed.
"I was nervous," Amara said, "but we can't decide who gets the trophy."
The new event is a way to help students feel connected to the school. Jefferson transitioned from a junior high to a middle school in 2013, bringing in students and faculty from different middle schools in the district, so the PTSA wanted to establish a tradition for the students, said Patti Watts, a social studies teacher at Jefferson.
Last year, Watts decided she wanted to revive the faculty follies, an old tradition at several Columbia schools years ago. She worked with the PTSA this year to create a talent show that included faculty and student performances.
During the show, Watts performed in a few numbers, and principal Greg Caine sang Dean Martin's "Ain't That A Kick" with the jazz band as the final act while judges tallied up votes. Other faculty acts included lip syncing to a mash-up of Spice Girls songs and a dance number to Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal."
Kym Parks, a social studies teacher, emceed the event with her son Ross Parks. In between acts, they bantered with the audience and played trivia games in the style of the popular TV show "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"
Parks said she thought the event was a resounding success.
"We're already talking about what we want to tweak for next year's show," event coordinator Stacy Ford said. "We had so many great staff, students and parents helping us this year that we couldn't resist having a second annual Jeff's Fabulous Follies."
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