The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 19, 2012

Jefferson teacher wears many hats, but organizing the talent show one of his favorite acts


Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — The excitement is palpable as the stage lights brighten and the curtain rises to introduce Jefferson’s annual High School Talent Show and the commonly acknowledged senior class clowns that have dutifully volunteered to host it. The show begins, smoothly without a hitch. Multiple acts grace the stage, mostly musically, some comical, all entertaining. As the night commences most remark on the memorable moments and endless entertainment, but behind the school’s most coveted tradition is a man who feels the gratifying sensation of relief.

Michael Barney seems to be at the center of every school function at Jefferson Area High School, and the annual talent show is no exception. Barney, once just a judge, is the adviser of the talent show. Long before the main event he must acquire the funds for prizes and review all potential acts, as well as promote the show.

“I am in charge of planning and organizing all acts. I am behind the stage during the show making sure all students are prepared and ready to perform on stage,” said Barney.

Like many, Barney anxiously awaits spring, not only for the hopefully warmer weather, but to see Jefferson students showcase their many unique talents. Barney is especially fond of the music acts, whether a student boldly takes on a solo, or a band displays their hours of practice in their garage.

“I love it. I look forward to it every year. Prior to becoming the adviser and in charge I made sure I was a member of the judges every year,” said Barney.

While Barney is obliged to present an annual talent show, he also understands that the students, as well as many members of the community, look forward to the yearly event. Barney describes the talent show as an opportunity to let  Jefferson High School students share their vocal, instrumental and comedy talent with their peers and community. The majority of Jefferson residents and students attend the show, after paying their $6 ticket, of course. Many teachers strive to become a judge and decide which acts should receive one of the four money prizes, ranging from $25 to $100.

Five judges are chosen from the Jefferson Area High School staff. The first is principal John Montanaro. The next, a former theater arts teacher and current English teacher, Rebecca Reese. The third judge is the school’s vocal music teacher, Kelli Olesky. The fourth prestigious judge is a Falcon Follies board member, drama adviser and director of the spring play, Seanna Butler. The last judge is Student Council director, Green Team adviser and Spanish teacher,  Stacey Hinkle.

While the talent show is no doubt a stress to bear, Barney is also involved with many other school activities, clubs and publishings. Barney teaches the most diverse and modern classes offered at Jefferson Area High School. His courses range from Digital Imaging, Web Design, Keyboarding, Accounting and Computer Applications. Barney is very involved in all of his classes and with the help of his projector, is a very hands-on teacher. Also, to further education outside of the classroom, Barney conducts many field trips in a year to match the criteria of the certain class.

Besides his expansive workload in the classroom, Barney takes on other tasks. Barney is the yearbook adviser, which is arguably his most important and demanding duty. With a team of very few upperclassmen, Barney is challenged with the task of creating Jefferson’s high school yearbook. Although, it does not seem that demanding, Barney must tirelessly be accurate and organized, like coaxing seniors to turn in their adorable, yet embarrassing baby pictures as well as their “senior” pictures. Barney is also the adviser for the Senior Leadership Club. SLC includes high school seniors and encourages philanthropy. SLC does various activities, such as the Big Brother/Sister Program, as well as fund-raising the school’s Powder Puff Game and Talent Show, among other things.

Seniors especially admire Barney as he is their class adviser. He also helps plan prom, the dance and the long-awaited graduation. Regarding graduation, Barney is responsible for ordering all caps and gowns, as well as decorating the gymnasium. Barney also oversees the senior class selections, such as song, flower and motto.

Considering all he does for the school, students and community, many regard Barney as indispensible to the district.