– Layla Bozich, staff

All eyes and ears were on St. Leo Catholic Elementary School last Thursday night as they celebrated with music and fashion during the Sounds of Music fundraiser for St. Vincent de Paul Society, a charity organization that gives immediate help to the needy through food, clothing, and furniture.

A flurry of body glitter and pre-show jitters were just a few of the elements seen backstage at the live concert event, held at Brantford’s own Sanderson Centre. The show started at 6:30 pm and featured musical theatre, fashion shows, raffles, and a silent auction.

“This [event] is unprecedented in our school board, where one school has undertaken such a large fundraiser,” says Dr. Dale Petruka, the principal of St. Leo.

The evening began with a fashion show presented by the students of St. Leo’s, with models wearing outfits donated by various clothing shops in Brantford including Netty Vintage.

The musical portion of the show featured professional talent such as Lauren Roy, Sean Hauk, Avery Kadish, and Trio Jazz, all of whom are Brantford natives. It also showcased talent from St. Leo’s itself, with eighth grader Ariela Dabrowski performing on the piano, third grader Natalia Sciberras playing violin, and sixth grader Dionna Emery singing Beautiful by Christina Aguilera.

Roy, Hauk, and Kadish covered a handful of popular show tunes, including Defying Gravity from Wicked, Tomorrow from Annie, Singin’ in the Rain from the musical of the same name, and Sixteen Going on Seventeen from The Sound of Music. Kadish, a young singer, actress, and dancer, even received a standing ovation for her rendition of “When You Wish Upon a Star”.

“It was a great chance for our children to see homegrown talent and maybe aspire to that,” says Petruka.

During the event’s intermission, Kimberly More, an audience member with two young daughters, explained that the show was definitely something to remember. “For us, this is really special,” says More. “This is our first time, just the three of us, going out together and [my daughters] have never been to the Sanderson Centre before.”

In the latter half of the show, Roy and Hauk performed various songs on the theme of love with the assistance of Trio Jazz, as well as a notable rendition of Adele’s Someone Like You by Roy.

The show drew to a close with a bridal procession inspired from a scene in The Sound of Music, featuring wedding, bridesmaid, and prom dresses from the Bridal Boutique. “The Time of My Life” by Roy and Hauk and Thank You for the Music by Kadish closed the show with streamers flying through the theatre.

“I was really impressed by the community spirit,” says event organizer and St. Leo mother Marlene Delong. “It just seemed like a real community event, but a very family event [as well].”

Petruka was humbled by the involvement of the community during what was originally supposed to be just a fashion show. Principle sponsors Al’s Shoe Factory Outlet and Simply You, as well as The Queen’s Closet, Wilfrid Laurier University, Blue Dog, Shoppers Drug Mart, and JD’s Hair Design, donated money and prizes. Petruka admitted that while her school started the idea, it just grew organically.

“When something like [this event] happens, it usually means it was meant to be,” she says.

The period of fundraising for St. Vincent de Paul Society has now been extended to March 30. After expenses, all proceeds from the evening will be donated to St. Vincent de Paul Society including the food that was collected as part of the event’s food drive.