Masquerade Ball aims to highlight, and help, Lafayette Jeff’s First Edition
Years after First Edition’s Haunted Mansion disappeared at the old Pythian Home, Lafayette Jeff’s show choir director, students, alums pull together first Masquerade Ball
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MASQUERADE BALL AIMS TO HIGHLIGHT, AND HELP, LAFAYETTE JEFF’S FIRST EDITION
Mark Myers arrived at Lafayette Jefferson High School well versed in the reputation of First Edition, long before he was hired as new director of the school’s show choir.
“Growing up, going to all those competitions,” Myers said, “we all knew what First Edition was. For good reason, too. There was all this history, and they were winning all the time.”
Myers stepped into his competitive show choir role looking to revive a piece of that history, in hopes of clearing the way for students he suspects are shying away from auditioning even when they have the talent to be a part of it.
In the ‘90s and into the mid-2000s, First Edition hosted its Haunted Mansion, a student-led haunted house inside the former Pythian Home near the high school on South 18th Street. That production drew long lines and raised thousands of dollars – while also giving First Edition members another outlet to perform – before the operation was shut down over health concerns in an aging, former nursing facility. LSC demolished Pythian Home in 2011, holding the land for future school district use.
Myers said the money raised in those days offset some of the costs passed along to families that come with being in a competitive show choir – whether in travel, costumes, arrangements, production costs and more.
The bottom line heading into a school year for the family of a student in First Edition? Myers said families are braced for a budget of about $1,000.
“Not all of our families are able to do that, or they're able to do that at varying degrees in a school community as diverse as the one we have at Jeff,” Myers said. “I’ve just seen some of our current students and family stressed out about that. We have to reassure them that we’re going to take care of it. And in this First Edition community, there always seems to be a way. … But I still wonder about all those kids who want to be involved and just don’t try, because they’re afraid they can’t afford it.”
This year, Myers and a set of First Edition alums are assembling performances for the First Edition Masquerade Ball, a new fundraiser Oct. 28 at The Outpost in Lafayette.
The dinner and show is meant to be the first in what Myers said he hopes will be an annual event, with timing set to the old Haunted Mansion days.
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First Edition will perform three sets, including one that will revive numbers based on arrangements done in the ‘90s under then director Eric Van Cleave.
Van Cleave said that he and Kevin Butler, who helped create First Edition in 1985, have known Myers since his days in high school show choirs.
“I’m thrilled to help connect Mark with the many former members of the Jeff High School choral department who, in one way or another, credit their success to their participation in this unique organization,” Van Cleave said. “He knows and respects the legacy of this group as much as anyone, and I’m confident his efforts will create a program that welcomes students regardless of their financial situation. And that is becoming increasingly difficult to do.”
Kristin (Denney) Bisciglia, Lafayette Jeff class of 1995, called the school’s music program part of her family history. Her father sang the choir, she was part of the First Edition crew and band, her kids are in choir program.
She’s chairing the Masquerade Ball, likening it to the fundraisers the athletic department has nurtured over the decades to keep costs down for families of students wanting to play at Lafayette Jeff.
“We had the Haunted Mansion, and that was so much fun and raised money for what First Edition was doing,” Bisciglia said. “We’re kind of behind, starting again. … The school has changed in a lot of ways since I graduated, but the kids are still so talented. You can just see it. This is just a way for us to make sure as many kids as possible can be involved. We believe we’re building something for kids beyond today.”
If you go: The First Edition Masquerade Ball will be 7-11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at The Outpost, 2501 Old U.S. 231 South. Performances will include three sets by First Edition, Expressions and alumni from Lafayette Jeff’s choir program. Tickets: $150, with tables of eight available. Ticket deadline: Oct. 20. Additional sponsorship levels are available at https://jeffchoirs.org/masquerade-ball.
THIS AND THAT …
PURDUE NAMES THE TYLER TRENT PEDIATRIC CENTER: Things didn’t go the way they did in 2018 at Ross-Ade Stadium, when Purdue student Tyler Trent predicted a big win over Ohio State – and then the Boilers delivered in an emotional game on national TV. The Boilers took a beating from the No. 3 Buckeyes Saturday, losing 41-7. But the spirit of that Tyler Trent Game was in the stadium, as Purdue used a time out in the first quarter to formally announce that it would establish the Tyler Trent Pediatric Center at the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research. Tyler Trent’s story as he dealt with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, became a national storyline that blossomed in a big way from his huge fandom of the Boilermakers. He died three months after that Ohio State game.
Michael Childress, professor of comparative oncology who will do research at the new center, said in a release from the university that a third of patients diagnosed with osteosarcoma die from it.
“And these are mostly adolescents,” Childress said. “That’s a real tragedy that speaks to the need to continue to push the envelope and look for new ways to improve the outlook for those patients.”
Trent’s parents, Kelly and Tony Trent, were among those on the field for the announcement Saturday.
“There are hardly words to articulate what this means,” Kelly Trent said in a university release. “As a parent who has lost a child, the best gift you can give me is to remember my child and celebrate him.”
For more about the new center or to donate, here’s your link.
STAIRWELL INSTALLATION OPENS ON CAMPUS: A soft launch happened late last week for StairWELL, an interactive art installation Purdue Convocations and musicians Chromic Duo will officially open Monday on the Third Street Chill Zone, near the intersection of Third Street and Martin Jischke Drive on campus. The interactive sculpture installation is designed to combine art, technology and clinical psychology, where viewers are able to interact with the pieces through a smartphone or other mobile device. (Yeah, I’m still figuring it out, too.) The installation will up through Oct. 30, open 24 hours a day. For more, check out https://convocations.purdue.edu/stairwell.
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