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The Good Stuff by Shelley Bennett

Finale picture of the whole cast by Tressa Guess

by Shelley Bennett

Hello Good Stuff readers! Sorry for my absence. May, a.k.a. the month of many things, officially kicked my butt and my creativity was sapped. Now that school is out for summer (did you sing that? Lol) I feel ready to tackle my weekly writing assignment.

It might be a little all over the place, because I have a lot of catching up to do!

A few weeks ago, Joan’s School of Dance hosted their 49th annual recital with the theme Around the World. As always, it was a talent-packed show, from the opening number featuring the studio’s instructors riding an airport shuttle to the baby Blue Macaws of South Africa shaking their maracas.

There were so many beautiful performances! Every dance celebrated a new country or culture and the performers showed their versatility in all genres of dance. Here are a few of my favorites:

Our flight attendants: Sofia, Renee, Hannah, Hayley, and Chalise

One of the first routines featured the Advanced Performing group as Flight Attendants. This dance also featured their own choreography and music choices and was an entertaining mix up of Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me” to “On the Floor” with J-Lo and Pitbull. With their crisp white button downs and navy skirts, the dancers interspersed snippets of getting ready for take off with jazz movements and advanced turns.

Sweet poodle puppies from across the stage

“French Poodle” choreographed by instructor Chalise Robbins, depicted a young dog walker trying to keep track of her pack of poodles. The Primary 2 Ballet group keep her on her toes (both literally and figuratively) and the combination of dance steps and acting was very entertaining.

Jillaine Singleton choreographed an original “National Art Gallery” which showcased famous paintings come to life. The ballerinas of Degas and Van Gogh’s starry night combined to make an intricate and colorful ballet.

“Kung Fu Pandas” featured the Beginning Jazz class kicking and dancing to the popular song. Choreographer Hayley Trevizu highlighted this class’ high energy level with lots of tricks and transitions.

Another favorite was the “Chinese Fan Dance” choreographed by Gabrielle Singleton. The Advanced Jazz class clad in dramatic red costumes, used fans that were festooned with brightly colored fabric streamers that made a striking visual.

Jillaine’s “Dia de Lost Muertos” depicted the balance between two worlds. With their somber expressions and beautiful black lace costumes, the dancers communicated a message of hope from the otherworld.

Molly Bettencourt’s “Blue Macaws” might have stole the show. With their feathery costumes and wide-eyed smiles, they stepped and hopped their way around the stage, like only the sweetest baby dancers can.

Seanne talks to his hip hop dancers/ballerinas during intermission

Seanne McElrath’s Advanced and Intermediate Hip Hop classes came together with “Aztec Warriors” and “Lost City of Gold”. These talented dancers filled the stage with crisp movements and visual group work. The towering pyramid appearing from behind the curtain and Renee Delgado’s trust fall were two of the highlights.

“Northern Lights” was a tribute dance dedicated to beloved Summer Corley, one of the studio’s dance moms. The Grade 6 Ballet class was joined by Summer’s daughters, Hannah and Katelyn, as they told a story of a mother’s love and faith.

The adult tap group shuffled their way onstage in “Dixieland.” Choreographed by Joan Zuehlke, they dedicated this dance to late classmate Leslie Cochran. Leslie’s presence at this year’s recital was sorely missed. You could always count on her for some kind words and a smile during stressful rehearsals. Leslie loved to dance and I will always remember her confidence onstage.

A “Lassen County Line Dance” closed the show with a toe-tapping, hand-clapping, boot-stomping performance by the Intermediated and Advanced dancers. It was a collaborative celebration with everyone weaving in and out of formations and showcasing partner work with complicated turns and lifts.

All in all, it was a wonderful tribute to Joan Zuehlke and the legacy of dance she has built in Lassen County.

Hilary and I have been in charge of stage right for the last 10 years

On June 9th, Lassen High School’s Class of 2023 celebrated their graduation in a unique style, as only they could. 187 graduates entered Arnold Field to the tune Pomp and Circumstance. They were greeted by Principal/Superintendent Morgan Nugent who praised them for being a “class act.”

Head of Security Dave Salas told the class that they were on the best in his memory and that he would miss them.

The speeches began with class president Ethan Shaw and ASB president Shade Satica taking a walk down memory lane, praising their classmates for reaching both academic and athletic goals. The duo also class advisor Carrie Satica with an Impact Award, noting that she like a “second mom” to many of their peers.

We Are Lassen student Allie Uribe enthusiastically spoke about the program, saying that it brought unity to LHS. She said “it’s our culture” and gives us a “strong sense of community” which is created by the teachers and staff.

Valedictorian Manny LePorte’s thank you’s were filled with passion and gratitude. He started with his parents, but went on to recognize teachers Kayla Millar, Jenn Lepage, Rachel Vincent, and Ben Wade for their impact on his writing, music, and drama “kid-ness.”

Jenna Leaman, the second valedictorian, also thanked her parents for being “amazing” especially her mom for pushing her to be “here” and take challenging classes throughout high school. She urged her fellow graduates to remember what is important in life, not grades or popularity, but “you.”

The last valedictorian Jeremy Nielsen assured the crowd that he did not resort to using artificial intelligence in writing his speech. He reminded his classmates that while life might seem to be like a stormy sea, “pitching and rolling” at times, you can always “get back up” when it knocks you down.

A memorable rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing” by the choir and drumline, featuring Jeremy Nielsen on piano, Manny LePorte on sax, and Erik Nez on guitar, had the teachers singing along in their seats. Then the keynote speaker was introduced.

Assemblywomen Meghan Dahle said that thirty years ago as a graduate of Fall River high school, she never imagined she would be where she is today. Dahle told the class that they were her “why”, the reason she spends her workdays in Sacramento making important decisions that affect our communities. She went on to celebrate the class’ “limitless potential” and “immense value” to not only our state, but the nation and world.

The graduates were announced by counselor Heather Eastwood and Dean of Students Bob Nielsen and given their diplomas by Mr. Nugent. A line of congratulatory handshakes were given by the LUHSD board, including President Michelle Zubillaga, Holly Egan, Jarret Ellena, Natalie Christensen, and Trevor Wood. Cheers and celebrations filled the air from the families and friends in attendance. The evening was capped off by Shaw and Satica directing the turning of the tassels and a burst of confetti.

Congratulations to the Class of 2023! As Ethan Shaw quoted Dr. Seuss in his speech, “Today is your day! You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!”

A special thanks to James Hall and the staff at LCOE for holding a fantastic Sober Grad after the ceremony. As we left the field, the inflatable games, DJ, and delicious smells of Mexican food made me wish I could stay up all night! Cody Beekman was the lucky winner of the car, donated by Jason Rieger of Wheels West.

I just got home from the J&J spring show A Frozen Story and just wow! It was amazing! I can’t wait to tell you about it next week.


Remember when news was ‘newsy’? When you read about weddings, family events and engagement announcements in the newspaper? If you have something that might be newsworthy, please submit it to [email protected] and I’ll do my best to include it here in “The Good Stuff.”

Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso
SusanvilleStuff.com Publisher/Editor
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