Written by Joe Scotchie Thursday, 28 March 2013 00:00
The annual Reach for a Star Luncheon at the Henry Viscardi School is always a major event, raising important funds for this nationally renowned institution. This year’s event was a particular special event in that Elise Testone, a 2012 American Idol finalist was able to perform.
Performing in front of an appreciative crowd of over 350 guests, plus students, parents and faculty members, Testone helped to make the 31st annual luncheon a significant event. Testone performed her own material, plus a rendition of the Bill Withers classic, “Lean On Me.” As with any great performer, Testone included student participation during that number. Afterwards, Testone toured the school in December and jammed with one of the music classes.
Proceeds from the luncheon, Henry Viscardi officials note, fund after-school clubs, sports and activities that give the students the opportunity to socialize with their friends and continue the lessons learned during the school day. One of those activities is Friday Night Rec. Or in the words of Chris, a ninth grader attending the Henry Viscardi School, “You can always tell when it is a Friday Night Rec day by the smiles on the kids faces.”
“Our after-school programs encourage kids to take chances, be bold, act like leaders, work as a team, cultivate school spirit and give back to their supporting communities,” added John D. Kemp, president and CEO of The Viscardi Center during his remarks at the luncheon. “These experiences also let them dream big. Their dreams include being a football player, business owner, doctor, and fashion designer to quote a few.”
The day was a homecoming of sorts of Testone as she is a native of New Jersey and once had a voice coach from New York City. A graduate of Coastal Carolina University, Testone remained in South Carolina and began performing in bands and writing her own songs. In the summer of 2011, Testone auditioned for American Idol, earning a spot to the finals. In her nationally-televised debut, she performed songs as different as Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” Billy Joel’s “Vienna” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” Testone received praise from Stevie Nicks and Jennifer Lopez, even though famed record producer Jimmy Iovine criticized her choice of songs. But none of that looks to slow down Testone’s career as she made numerous admirers in the record industry and as important, with a nationwide audience.