American Pie

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Westfield High School mixes music with history through concert

By Anna Skinner

A handful of Westfield High School students play some of their favorite songs while they wait for their peers to join them so rehearsals can begin. One last cluster of students filter in, and the room is full of energy as band members try to fit two amplifiers, a bass, a guitar, a microphone, a set of drums, and all four members into the front of an ordinary classroom. The sounds of R.E.M’s “It’s the End of the World” reverberate off white cinderblock walls.

The song ends, and a new group of students ease into Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.” Rehearsals for the third annual American Pie concert – a collaboration between history, community and the talent of WHS’s students and staff – take place in an ordinary classroom.

WHS teachers Mark Ewing, Kurt Frederick and Jen Hasler-Troutman have worked together for the past three years to put on an annual rock concert for the school and the community. American Pie was created by Columbus North High School’s Ed Niespodziani 30 years ago, and Hasler-Troutman loved the idea of a school-wide rock concert so much she desired to bring American Pie to WHS.

“It is something that I wanted to do for years. My favorite thing is the community aspect, the way that all different kinds of students and staff members are able to come together for this show,” Hasler-Troutman said. “The cool aspect for community members is getting to see younger members pay tribute to their era with the music of their childhood. It bridges across generations.”

Last year, the American Pie concert completely sold out. Ewing, Frederick, and Hasler-Troutman are expecting the same turn out this year, which is close to 1,000 attendants. Tickets are on sale now through April 23 in the WHS Cafeteria during the school’s lunch hours. Tickets cost $8 in advance and $10 at the door the night of the show if they have not sold out during presale.

Approximately 100 students and staff are participating in the event. The students work with professional musicians as they plan and participate in the show, and ticket prices cover those musical and production costs. Any profit is generated into the next year’s show.

Frederick says his favorite point of the show is all the energy and buzz right before the curtain drops.

“You know you will blow the audience’s minds and it’ll be the best experience of their lives and the students’ lives and you have seen the show before but they haven’t. It’s all this hard work that pays off and I can’t wait for someone else to experience it,” he said.

Alongside hard work, a strong family aspect also comes into play with the wide variety of talented students working together to create this performance. WHS junior and American Pie musician Kalie Heim says she got involved because it’s such a great activity for a school to do to achieve a strong family aspect.

“It’s important to all of us because it connects us as a group,” Heim said. “It gets everyone in the school engaged. Not just the student body, but the teachers are involved too.”

Heim is playing the guitar and lead vocals for “Free Fallin’.” This year’s theme is the 1980s, and the tagline is “I Wanna Rock” inspired by the band, Twisted Sister.

“American Pie is a truly a dream come true for me,” Ewing said. “The opportunity to tell the story of America through Rock and Roll is what I have always tried to do in my classes and the ability to share this story with the entire community in all honesty is truly amazing.”

The show is April 23 in the WHS auditorium. Tickets will be sold at the door until the show sells out. For more information, visit whsamericanpie.blogspot.com.

“Everyone should come to the show because it is going to be great,” Heim said.


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