A clumsy dinosaur interrupting a ballad. Sister acts. Kindergartners in matching “girl power” shirts.
These are some of the unique acts that make the annual Severna Park Elementary School Variety Show special, and what brings Shannon Pearson back year after year as the volunteer chairperson.
“The excitement and energy coming out of them, it was the cutest thing ever. I still get chills thinking about it,” recalled Pearson of one such performance from years past.
The mother of three, whose two youngest children are in fourth and fifth grades, has been involved with the show since her oldest, now in middle school, was in kindergarten. She has served as the chairperson since 2019.
“It’s a huge job, but it’s a fun job,” Pearson said of the weeks she has spent, and will continue to spend, collecting submissions, answering parent emails, putting acts in order for the show, working out logistics and rehearsing for the March 24 event.
Pearson always had a strong desire to be involved in her children’s school and social lives. Combine that with her commitment to community service, her Type A personality and a background in musical theater, and volunteering for the variety show was a no-brainer.
“I jokingly say that volunteering is my full-time job because I’m blessed and lucky enough to stay home with my kids, and I just want to be a part of it. I want to help,” said Pearson, who serves as a Cub Scout den leader in addition to the multiple volunteer duties she takes on at the school.
Pearson reflected fondly on the participation of third-grade teacher Jennie Merrill, who has served as the faculty volunteer for many years, and is frequently hit up to participate in the student acts.
“That woman is a saint,” Pearson said. “Some of my favorite memories are of the acts that Jennie has been a part of.”
The praise is mutual.
“Shannon is amazing,” Merrill said. “She has a passion to see all students’ gifts highlighted and brought to the stage. She is a dream to work with and she never leaves a stone unturned when it comes to putting together our fabulous show.”
This will be the school’s 17th year of hosting the variety show. It was originally designed by a group of moms who wanted the kids to have the opportunity for a “shining star moment,” Pearson said.
Variety Show was the brainchild of former Severna Park Elementary School parent Loretta Wilson. She, along with two other moms from the school, Jennifer MacFarland and Jennifer Sovern, passed away from breast cancer within a few years of each other. Since then, the show morphed from simply a fun way to display the students’ talents to a fundraiser benefiting the Luminis Health Fortney Breast Center in their honor.
The hours and dedication put in by Pearson and her team ensure that Wilson’s original vision for Variety Show – creating moments for the students to shine – never fades.
Pearson said it makes it all worth it to see the kids onstage when the curtain opens, and they take in the audience and see the producers sitting at the table smiling.
“Seeing the energy and the pride that comes from them knowing that they’re having fun and doing good jobs, seeing the parents and how excited they are — that’s awesome,” Pearson said. “That’s a great feeling.”
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