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'Springfield Idol' to showcase talent, help schools

Date: 5/12/2010

May 12, 2010.

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- On June 4 at the Basketball Hall of Fame, students from 15 of the city's schools will compete in the semi-finals of "Springfield Public Schools Idol" and the company promoting the event is looking for additional sponsors.

Barbara Garde, the vice president of marketing and development for Am B Care Ambulance Services, explained to Reminder Publications the company is working toward developing a separate fund through the Springfield School Volunteers that can be used to support music and art education in the city's school.

Last year the company raised $10,000 through its first effort, a benefit concert. This year, Garde said, to continue the effort the company wanted to do something that involved the students themselves. The result was a contest in which students from kindergarten to 12th grade could display their talents. The winners will receive cash prizes.

The schools have conducted their own contests to produce the semi-finalists and Garde explained the students not only sing, but also perform theatrical pieces, stage magic acts, perform instrumentally and do stand-up comedy.

She said she was impressed with the caliber of the talent especially from the younger students. And she noted with a laugh she has heard at least 40 renditions of pop idol Justin Bieber's hit "Baby."

She said the students have been very excited about the competition.

Garde said that following the June 4 semi-finals the finals would be conducted as an outdoor concert at Stearns Square on June 17. She said Richard Torcia of Fat Cat's Bar and Grille has been very helpful in setting up this performance and Michael Barrasso, co-owner of the Skyplex and Paramount is trying to arrange a band performance that same day to act as a kick-off for the annual Stearns Square concert series.

Michael Lamm of PH Productions will be working with the finalists to help them with their stage presence, she added.

To become a sponsor or to volunteer, contact Garde at (978)-413-6780 or at 732-7224. Ticket information for the semi-finals on June 4 will be released shortly.