A Sea of Talent

By GRACE WANG, sophomore

On the night of JPS Got Talent, a huge crowd gathered in the school auditorium to watch 11 acts, featuring diverse and impressive talent from students of all grades. To accompany the night’s “Gone to Sea” theme, the JP Stevens Student Council decorated the stage with various pictures of treasure maps, ship anchors, and pirate flags. Throughout the night, senior hosts Chris Ferranti and Felix Nodarse hosts roused the crowd with a barrage of jokes and stories, encouraging the audience to chant “JPS” and “SpongeBob Squarepants” according to the theme.

After the hosts opened the night with an introductory video, senior Gabriela Abarquez began the program with an impressive and romantic vocal cover. Following this performance, senior Anuj Patel performed a solo on the tabla, a traditional Indian percussion instrument similar to the bongo. Later, an energetic dance troupe featuring juniors Abhishek Aravind, Rutvik Ashtikar, and Bhavin Jani, took the stage. The trio performed an upbeat synchronized dance routine to a medley of songs of different cultures. Sophomore Tina Luo observed, “After attending my first talent show and witnessing the diversity of these acts, I have now developed an interest in participating in next year’s talent show.”

Next, senior Ritesh Trikha took the stage to present a magic trick that entertained and impressed the audience. After asking a volunteer to choose a card from his deck, he stunned the audience by taking off his jacket and revealing that the name of the card was already written on his arm.

Sophomore Tajira Harmon, freshman Shruti Venkat, and seniors Matt Flores and Macaulay Pinto each followed by serenading the crowd to popular love songs, such as “Someone Like You” and “Fix You.” Their performances all accounted for a strong conclusion of the first segment of the show, before the intermission began. During the intermission, the hosts commented on the talent featured onstage and even opened the floor to any students willing to improvise a performance. Several students showcased their talents through song covers and even a game of rock, paper, scissors.

Following the intermission, the hosts introduced senior Veronica Beltran and sophomore Gabriel Beltran, the winners of last year’s talent show, who performed a special guest exhibition act. The duo actively retook the stage with a lively dance routine that reminded the audience of their stunning debut.

After the Beltrans performed, the next contestant, freshman Alan Hsu, approached the stage with a unique act featuring his collection of Chinese yo-yos. As he began his routine, Alan impressed the audience with different variations of tricks that sent the yo-yo soaring through the air, between his legs, and behind his back.  Additionally, he used up to three yo-yos at once and even continued his performance without holding his sticks.

Before introducing the next act, the hosts expressed their amazement with the performances and claimed their superiority to Captain Crunch. When the show resumed, sophomore Tyler Seto moved the audience with a heartfelt cover of Adele’s “Hello.” During his performance, the audience members snapped along and waved their phones to the beat of the song. “I was very nervous, because this was my first solo performance,” Tyler reflected later. “But as soon as I started, I felt more comfortable because I could express my emotions through the lyrics.”

Similarly, juniors Simran Belani and Ria Karangutkar performed a slower acoustic version of Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” Finally, the first round of performances concluded with senior Anish Soni’s upbeat drum accompaniment to a pop song medley from “Trap Queen” and “Can’t Feel My Face” to “Hotline Bling,”

As the panel of judges, featuring Mr. Mayes, Ms. Biloholowski, Mr. Patel, and Mrs. Quan, met to pick the top three acts that can move on to the next round, the hosts invited more students to approach the stage and perform for the audience. Junior Victoria Tan volunteered to perform a short cover of Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down.”  After singing, Victoria commented, “Performing evokes a sense of inexplicable joy in me. It lets me feel a confidence I normally don’t feel and it truly humbles me.” After carefully deliberating the performances, the judges returned to announce the three finalists who would advance to the final round: the duo Matt Flores and Macaulay Pinto, yo-yo artist Alan Hsu, and drummer Anish Soni.

Seniors Matt Flores and Macauely Pinto kicked off the final round with a powerful acoustic rendition of Ed Sheeran’s “Give Me Love,” Matt singing and Macauley on guitar. His performance included musical dynamic changes and swells that added to the cathartic effect of his cover. Next, senior Anish Soni presented a solo drum routine and concluded his performance by playing with only one hand, impressing the audience with his versatility. Finally, freshman Alan Hsu performed with his Chinese yo-yos to a soundtrack of intense hip hop music, topping off the routine with glow-in-the-dark yo-yos.

Just before the highly anticipated results were announced, the hosts congratulated all the performers and reflected on the successful night. Though all contestants had offered incredible performances, the final award for JPS Got Talent went to Alan Hsu on the yo-yos.

Behind the success of the talent show, of course, was the Student Council, who began meticulously planning and rehearsing months beforehand. In addition to arranging auditions for contestants and hosts, the Student Council worked diligently to organize and publicize the event through posters and announcements. Student Council treasurer, junior Anjali D’Amiano recalled, “Though we faced many challenges in the planning process, mostly due to scheduling conflicts for rehearsals, we pulled together in the end and presented a diverse and entertaining show to remember.”

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