Students go head-to-head in multi-school Sing! competition

Southern Brooklyn high schools Sing! for good cause

Brooklyn Daily
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Opening ceremony: Dominique Krol of Midwood High School sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” to kick off Brooklyn Sings! on March 8.
Creepy crooners: Midwood High School’s team performed “The Reunion of the Forgotten” — a song about an undead high school reunion.
Spell-binding performance: Victoria Polansky of Edward R. Murrow High School preforms in her team’s riff on Harry Potter: “Wizards of MurrowWarts.”
Spell-binding performance: Edward R. Murrow High School performs their riff on Harry Potter: “Wizards of MurrowWarts.”

Performers from three Southern Brooklyn high schools reprised a borough tradition.

Students attending the schools — Edward R. Murrow on Avenue L and James Madison and Midwood high schools on Bedford Avenue — competed in the first multi-school Sing! competition in decades, going head-to-head-to-head for bragging rights and to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Murrow’s team took top honors for its riff on Harry Potter called “MurrowWarts,” but judges said all three acts hit the right notes.

“It was a very difficult decision,” said District 22 Superintendant Rhonda Farkas, one of the judges. “I had to make a rough draft before handing in my final scores. Each school had a remarkable talent — the acting, the singing, playing in the band.”

Students produce all aspects of the show — including choreography, song-writing, and live accompaniment, said Lisa Willner, a spokeswoman for Murrow.

“It really does bring together everyone from every creative group in the school,” she said. “Every Sing-er has ownership over all this.”

The competition raised more than $20,000 for the Relay for Life — more than any single Relay fund-raiser, she said.

Sing! has been a Southern Brooklyn institution since Midwood High School music teacher Bella Tillis created the competition in 1947.

“It’s like the pre-cursor to TV’s ‘Glee,’ ” said Relay for Life organizer Joe Gillette.

In the past, schools would compete against each other for bragging rights. More recently, the competitions pitted grades within the same school against one another. For the fund-raiser, organizers wanted to bring Sing! back to its heyday and stoke inter-school competition, Gillette said.

“We thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be a great idea to get the winners from each of the schools together to face-off like they did in the ’60s?’ ” he said.

And there will be an encore.

“This is going to be an annual thing,” Gillette said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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