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SHS Student Talent on Display at Jabberfest 2010

The day before spring recess, SHS students took an early break from the books to hang out in the school's auditorium and watch a diverse array of peer music and dance performances.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son! / The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! / Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun / The frumious Bandersnatch!

There weren't any Jabberwocks or Bandersnatches dueling in the Scarsdale High School auditorium last Friday, but there was a Jabberfest.

"We've been doing this for 30 years, so it's a tradition," said Jabberwocky advisor and English teacher Jeanne Cooper. "It's one day in the high school where everyone is invited to be part of the community."

Jabberfest is an offshoot of Jabberwocky, SHS's literary publication. Jabberwocky derives from Louis Carroll's poem of the same name, which was originally published in 1872 in Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. 

Usually there are two Jabberfests at SHS, but this year's winter event got snowed out last month. Friday's performance, though, gave students a chance to socialize and take a break from the pressures of academics while watching nearly 200 of their peers perform a diverse array of music and dance numbers.

"The event includes everything from classical to rock to rap [music]," said Anthony Levin, a junior and one of Jabberwocky's editors.

Levin, who was busy selling hot chocolate, cupcakes, and cookies for Jabberwocky while simultaneously scribbling down a poem on a small piece of paper, said that last year he contributed six poems to the magazine. When he goes on to college, he plans to major in English.

After speaking with Levin, I followed students and many cumbersome backpacks (so reminiscent of high school!) into the auditorium, where the band Dropside started in on the intro riff to Black Sabbath's "Crazy Train."

The editors-in-chief of Jabberwocky, seniors Sahar Saleem and Emily Fite, believe that Jabberfest and Jabberwocky give students the opportunity to de-stress through creativity.

Saleem and Fite, who introduced themselves as best friends and have been involved with Jabberwocky since their freshman year, are planning to collaborate on a Senior Options project about the benefits of art therapy.

Saleem said that the arts help people express different parts of themselves than what they usually unveil to others. Saleem sang with a female a cappella quartet at Jabberfest, and it was her first public performance.

"She's good!" Fite told me while lending a reassuring glance to her friend before she went on stage.

Fite, a photographer, said that Jabberfest and Jabberwocky are creative outlets from SHS's high-stakes environment.

"It gives them something else to think about besides school pressure," she said.

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