Bravo! Teaneck Community Charter School wins ‘Smash’ musical grant

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: The Teaneck Community Charter School is one of 10 grand-prize winners of NBC Universal’s “Smash: Make a Musical” contest, emerging from a field of more than 1,000 entrants.

Photo Credit: TCCS

Teaneck Community Charter School pupils rehearse (PHOTO courtesy TCCS)

A nationally recognized master theater teacher will lead two professional development workshops with teachers and pupils beginning this fall, taking educators at the TCCS step-by-step through the process of producing their first-ever musical. 

The TCCS will also be given the rights to produce a show from MTI’s Broadway Junior© collection of musicals for student performances, then will stage the musical — first for the school and then for the community at large.

Two teachers will receive stipends, the school will be able to buy props, costumes and scenery, and a project advisor will be assigned. That will give TCCS what it needs to expand its arts programs and continue staging musicals in the future, the show’s producers said.

The charter school competed with 29 other finalists for 10 available grants after being selected from more than 1,000 applicants based on need, how the school would use the funds, and agreeing to put on a musical for the next two school years.

It’s also one of the smallest schools to compete and win, along with another New Jersey entrant, Green Hills Elementary School, in the Sussex County town of Greendell.

“Winning is not about the money,” TCCS Principal Billy Bowie told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. “It’s really about the opportunity. By being able to expand the arts programs, we would be able to enhance student learning and understanding.”

The first 20 schools in Phase One of “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make a Musical” will begin performing their first-ever musicals this month.

NBC says 640 hours of teacher training has been completed, more than 1,000 children have been in rehearsals and more than 13,000 now have access to quality arts programs.

“The philanthropic initiative, sponsored by NBC’s hit musical drama series ‘Smash’ and administered by iTheatrics’ Junior Theater Project, works with under-served schools across the country to stage their own productions and implement self-sustaining theater programs,” the network said Monday in a release.

More than 52,000 people are expected to attend the Phase One performances. Just as many, if not more, are expected for the Phase Two musicals later this year.

The other Phase Two finalists, along with the TCCS and Green Hills:

University High School (Los Angeles, CA)
LaGrange High School (Lake Charles, LA)
Vandercook Lake High School (Jackson, MI)
Muskegon High School (Muskegon, MI)
Big Beaver Falls Area Middle Schools (Beaver Falls, PA)
Desert Wind Elementary School (El Paso, TX)
Ashland Middle School (Ashland, WI)
Blennerhassett Middle School (Parkerburg, WV)

Before the voting closed on Friday, TCCS fifth-grader Destiny Greene told CLIFFVIEW PILOT she hopes her school won so that she could perform in “Annie.”

“Every day after school and at night I go on to the website and vote for my school,” said Destiny, who loves to dance and act and can play the clarinet, drums and piano. “My mom sends people emails and calls my family in Jamaica, London, New York and different parts of New Jersey so they can vote, too.”

It certainly paid off.

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