NPES celebrates Motown

Published 9:51 pm Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A special program on Tuesday gave students at Nansemond Parkway Elementary School the opportunity to be stars for the evening.

A student performance, “Motown and Others Red Carpet Event,” featured fourth- and fifth-grade students performing Motown music on the gymnasium stage.

The 200 students were organized into 17 different groups, each with a routine inspired by decades of Motown artists and other R&B groups, such as Boyz II Men and Sisters With Voices.

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“We’ve taught the children about Motown and how important it was in the music industry,” Nansemond Parkway art teacher Qua Cummings said. “They took that idea and ran with it.”

The children were dressed in costumes that fit the music playing on the gym loudspeakers. Students spoke about each performed song from a small stage with a “Soul Train” background.

“I learned how to do the ‘Proud Mary’ dance,” 10-year-old fifth-grader Lilly West said. “It’s a dance to a song that Tina Turner made.”

Students sang and danced to Ray Charles, Whitney Houston and India Arie. One group danced to the song “My Girl” by The Temptations. The night ended with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

An audience of more than 600 friends, family and faculty applauded each performance.

“We always get a huge turnout from parents, families and neighbors,” Nansemond Parkway media specialist Tosha Penkrot said. “The kids really seem to enjoy it.”

Ten-year-old fifth-grader Kamari Jackson said he and his friends had been practicing “My Girl” since January. He learned to be patient when practicing.

“Just keep working on it, even if it looks ugly,” he advised. “You’ll get it eventually.”

Nansemond Elementary resource team member Shannah Silver has been organizing student performances for five years. Every year holds something different to display their talents and challenge them.

“They worked so hard, practicing every day,” Silver said. “We’re super proud of them.”

Antonia Cruz said her daughter, Autumn Goden, had grown more confident after practicing the Sisters With Voices routine.

“She’s definitely more vocal,” she said. “It’s helped her come out of her shell. She’s not as shy as she was.”

It was her first play, but Goden was confident when she sang lyrics to the song “Weak.”

“I’ve tried hard to fight it, no way I can fight it,” she sang. “You’re all so sweet, it knocks me off my feet.”