Cornell’s Got Talent! So Let’s Go on with the Show!
Where can you listen to the biggest hits; meet the future’s next big fashion designers; experience juggling, poetry, and jump-roping (sometimes all at the same time); and then, get to join in on a gigantic dance party at the end? You don’t need to head over to San Francisco – just head on out to Cornell’s annual entertainment showcase event for kids, Cornell’s Got Talent!
The brain-child of Cornell parent, Dorothe Piluso, who began the event in 2010, it is one of the most anticipated events of the school year. “Cornell kids just love getting up on stage,” Dorothe says, “Between 70 and 120 kids take part every year. The auditions are really set up to help kids shape their performances, not to cut anyone. Anyone from grades K through 5 can audition and come perform in the show. It’s an opportunity for kids to get up there and sing or dance or do whatever it is that they really love to do, and just shine.” In the last few years, kids have also begun contributing to the event in many other ways if they like: those who don’t want to perform serve important roles as part of the stage crew – working the lights or sound — or help with concessions.
There are many other “stars” of Cornell’s Got Talent! For example, the show’s success has always depended on the wonderful help of Cornell Coach Joel Gildersleeve, who emcees the event every year with energy and excitement. In fact, he’s never missed a year. “Even the year Coach Joel’s wife had their baby, he still came!” says Dorothe. “What’s great is that this year, that little baby, his daughter Grace, has entered Cornell as a kindergartner, and now she’s going to be in the show too.”
Dorothe also credits the success of the event to Principal Terry Georgeson at Ocean View Elementary, who always graciously allows Cornell to hold the show in the school’s Auditorium. And of course, there are Cornell’s special parents who volunteer for the event’s Organizing Committee each year, such as this year’s team, which includes Jessica Cross, Stephanie Ramos, Gregory Sharpstein, and Ben Wallace. “I’m so glad to be a part of a school where you throw a crazy idea about an event or a fundraiser out there,” says Dorothe, “and the parents don’t blink an eye. They say, ‘Ok, sure, let’s go for it!,’ and then they help make it happen. The next thing you know, it’s a tradition. We have events that parents started 20 years ago, and we have Cornell parents today that still make sure that they happen. That’s very special.”
Over the years, Cornell’s Got Talent! has offered up some memorable performances. Indeed, some follow the trends. “One year, everyone wanted to sing “Happy,” and last year, it was the Shawn Mendes song, “Stitches.” And of course, there was a whole phase where everyone loved Frozen and we heard ‘Let it Go.’ A lot.” Some other performances, however, are truly one-of-a-kind. One year, a student directed a Fashion Show where garments were inspired by the elements; another, someone solved a Rubik’s Cube to music. Dorothe’s favorites, though? She’s loved watching her own daughter Audrey’s recurring annual “Vaudeville” skit where she tells jokes with her good friend, Rachel Bernard-Pearl: “Every year they do something different, and try to keep the audience on their toes.” But most of all, she loves it when kids simply try new things and really “nail it.”
This year’s Cornell’s Got Talent! is coming up fast on Saturday, March 11th in the Ocean View Elementary School Auditorium. The first show will feature Grades K-2 and starts at 1 pm. The second show will feature Grades 3-5 and starts at 5 pm. Dorothe promises that it will be as entertaining as ever.
It should be mentioned that at the end of this school year, Dorothe’s youngest child, fifth-grader, Audrey, will be moving on to Albany Middle School. Says Dorothe: “We’re all definitely sad to move on. Our family has spent the last nine years as a part of Cornell. But we’re happy for the memories we’ve made here.” Of course, some of the greatest for her have been behind the scenes at Cornell’s Got Talent! “I tear up to think about the times right before the kids go out on stage. We always have a Backstage Circle, practice some mindfulness, and then let out a big roar together. All the kids put so much energy into the show.”
And Cornell will miss Dorothe too. From serving as PTA President between 2009 and 2011, and then as the Board’s VP of Volunteers and VP of Events, to founding some of Cornell’s favorite events such as the Westbrae Pumpkin Patch fundraiser and Cornell’s Got Talent!, Dorothe has also helped create much of the Cornell spirit that so many enjoy. So, as Dorothe exits stage right, we want to take a moment to say Thank You! And to send much appreciation to all of the Cornell parents, students, and supporters that make Cornell’s Got Talent! possible each and every year. Let’s go on with the show!