The spice of life: PS 304 show a hit with kids, teachers, charity

Leila Capelo dances to the song “Human,” while Dayna Morales plays the piano during P.S. 304’s Autism Speaks Variety Show on Monday, June 16.
Photo by Aracelis Batista

A group of elementary schoolers in Throggs Neck put their budding talents to good use on June 16 when they hosted a variety show to raise money to help treat children with autism.

PS 304 parent coordinator and variety show director Lisa Schiliro-Reilly said more than 60 third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders helped raise money for Autism Speaks with dancing, singing, or performing other talents.

The kids played to a packed auditorium, she said, and the show raised $1,000 for Autism Speaks through tickets sales and a 50/50 raffle. Schiliro-Reilly said the variety show was just one of many fund-raisers students have held for Autism Speaks, the charity dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism, and that the school has been contributing to the cause for the past few years. She said the students raise money from the beginning of April, which is National Autism Awareness Month, through the end of the school year.

This year, the students have raised more than $7,500 for Autism Speaks, she said.

Besides the variety show, fund-raisers have included dance-a-thons and bake sales. Schiliro-Reilly said this is the first year in a while that the school has hosted a variety show, and the school plans to continue it.

Parent volunteer Angela Torres, who helped organize the event and coached students on dancing and singing throughout the six weeks they prepared for the show, said she was amazed by how well the children performed, and that the kids got a lot more out of the training and performance than just the dollars for the charity.

“It was wonderful to see their improvement,” she said. “I feel like they developed a lot of confidence.”

The variety show also offered a lesson about giving back and contributing to good causes, she said.

“They realize the importance of using your skills to benefit someone else,” said Torres.

Schiliro-Reilly said the show was purposefully not called a talent show, because it was not about how good the young kids are at singing or dancing, but instead about the effort.

“It’s not about the talent,” Schiliro-Reilly said. “It’s about the time and energy the kids donate to the cause.”

Torres said the show was great and that the students enjoyed both the performing and the fund-raising.

“The kids felt really proud of themselves,” said Torres. “They felt like they accomplished something.”

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at jwilliams@cnglocal.com.

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