Rock History: Teens showcase classic hits from David Bowie, Queen, Bonnie Raitt, others at Grand Junction Plaza


It is likely that audience members at Grand Junction Plaza were familiar with songs from various artists in American history that resonated with them — Motley Crue, Journey, Tom Petty, David Bowie, Elvis and The Beatles, to name a few.

But for Westfield High School students, including some 2023 graduates, Grand Junction Plaza was an opportunity to showcase their musical talents while taking audiences back in time.

“American Pie,” which was originally performed in the auditorium at WHS in May, was recently brought to the public in front of an outdoor audience for the first time in 11 years. This year’s theme, “I’m Going Back to Indiana,” seemed like a good fit for this year’s show, said Mark Ewing, a social studies teacher at the high school.

“The idea is to teach the history of the United States in a pop culture setting from the 1950s up to 2000,” Ewing said. “The whole concept is that Indiana is kind of viewed maybe as not the coolest, hippest place, but we actually kind of are. We have a lot of really good and cool influential people who are from here and a lot of really important cool pop culture events have taken place here and just some of the musicians that are from here are bona-fide rock.”

But for recent WHS graduate Tammie Shalit, who performed Motley Crue’s hit “Home Sweet Home,” preparation was key going into her performance. That involved not only knowing the lyrics, but also performing the song with other people on stage, she said.

“The big thing that we want people to take away is understanding rock history and the importance of rock songs or in general how music plays an important part in history,” Shalit said.

The opportunity for students to perform outdoors was also something welcomed by Ewing and students, some of whom are leaving Westfield next month as they head to college.

“We love the auditorium at the high school, it’s our confines with a lot of cool stage effects that we do there with lighting and fog machines that you can’t necessarily do outside, but this is just an awesome set up and the sound system is out of this world,” Ewing said.

The performance was also a positive way for many to end their high school career, especially for recent WHS graduates such as Annie Spaletto, who is headed to Indiana University in Bloomington this fall to study dietetics. Spaletto, who performed “These Boots Are Made for Walking” by Nancy Sinatra,” said it was “kind of bittersweet when you think about it,” noting that her last four years have been with such amazing people and great experiences.

Other students, such as Margo Murphy, were unaffected by the hot weather and performed “I’ll Be There” by Mariah Carey. She said despite it being a nerve-wracking experience in some ways, she was thankful for the opportunity to perform.

“It doesn’t really matter the weather, I just give it my all no matter what,” she said. “Honestly, I’m thankful that part of it all is the love and support from family and friends and getting to participate in a group experience with so many loving and welcoming people altogether.”

Upcoming events at Grand Junction Plaza

  • Mr. Daniel, a popular children’s museum performs for free from 10 to 11:30 a.m. July 11, 18 and 25
  • Workout Wednesday takes place from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. July 12, 19, 26 and Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
  • Learn about watersheds, invasive species and creek wildlife while splashing around to beat the heat on Thursdays July 27 (10 to 11 a.m.), Aug. 3 (10 to 11 a.m.) and Aug. 5 (9 to 10 a.m.). Free tickets, which are required, can be found at