Coffee House gives students chance on stage
Zachary Hayda plays the song "Mad World" on the bandura during Coffee House at Ridgewood High School in Norridge. "Coffee House" is a night of poetry reading, short skits, music performed by students and sponsored by the Ridgewood Rebel Readers ad Ridgewo
Updated: June 11, 2012 8:38AM
Jessie Roman isn’t as demure as her classmates thought.
The junior at Ridgewood High School in Norridge came out of her shell on May 2, when she recited “An Ode to Dwarf Planet 134340,” a poem dedicated to Pluto by slam poet Big Poppa E, at the annual variety show Coffee House.
About 220 students gave her rousing applause for her energetic and humorous performance.
“I’m actually the quiet girl at school because I’m new here,” Roman said, adding she transferred from Guerin Prep High School in River Grove.
Roman chose the poem because she felt scientists unfairly took away Pluto’s status as a planet in 2006. She saw Pluto as an outcast teenager and thought the poem would go over well at Coffee House, a showcase for student actors, musicians, singers and other performance artists. It was the perfect venue for showing other students who Roman really is.
“When I get really into a story, I tell it with a lot of enthusiasm,” Roman said. “It was great. There was this energy coming from the audience and it gave me more energy to perform, and it was awesome.”
That’s the beauty of Coffee House, said staff organizers and librarians Jennette Gonzalez and Allison Goodman. Students get to know each other better. And they get know a greater number students every year as the event’s popularity grows. This year featured 22 students.
“Every year it’s gotten bigger and better,” Gonzalez said. “Now they all look forward to it.”
But, it also works the same for faculty and staff seeing students out of context, doing what they love to do.
“We see our students in the classroom, so it’s very academic. But you don’t always get to see them do something as creative as performing a song or doing a skit or reciting a poem or doing things like that,” Gonzalez said. “So, it’s nice to see them outside the classroom and, obviously, to see their very creative side.”
Goodman said a group of students performed “Bohemian Rhapsody,” by Queen, that brought other students to their feet and generated a strong sense of camaraderie.
“By the end of the performance, somebody had turned the lights off and every kid in the room was on their feet singing and dancing along to it,” she said. “That kind of moment is just really fun to watch. They get to be together and be cute. They’re not necessarily all friends, but coming together in that moment is really nice.”