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John Hopkins Middle School's Fringe Fest showcase: one campus, many performers

ST. PETERSBURG — From New York to Edinburgh, Scotland, fringe festivals are an institution.

And now John Hopkins Middle School will have one of its own, modeled after the festivals around the world that feature lineups of alternative theater performances on the "fringe" of major shows.

Set for Nov. 17, the school's first Fringe Festival will showcase all the talents from its arts magnet programs, from "street performers" to dance dramas.

The festival exists thanks to a scheduling quirk.

Last year, after performances were canceled and reshuffled to the same night, Michael Vasallo, the school's arts magnet coordinator, realized it offered an opportunity.

"We can open the campus, and parents can see multiple events," he said.

The festival also is a chance for the school to show a different side of itself after intense scrutiny on its discipline problems last year, students said.

"This is going to help show (people) the positive things about our school," said Jamari Graham, the eighth-grader who designed the posters for the event. "We heard about all the negative things in the newspaper … They make it seem as if everyday we have something going on, and someone was arrested every day of the week. It was not true."

Kristin Hemphill, president of the Hopkins Magnet Enrichment booster association, said the school has lost potential sixth-graders this year.

"This will strengthen the school and help the community see what programs there are and all the great opportunities for their kids," she said.

Those behind John Hopkins Middle's first Fringe Festival promise an eclectic showcase. Adding on to the theater element of fringe festivals, about 120 students will perform dance pieces, music recitals and an art exhibition will be displayed throughout the campus.

Montrell Haymon, an eighth-grade ballet dancer, has already started spreading the word.

"Every person I talked to is pretty psyched about it. My neighbors are very supportive and they are have been wanting to see me dance for a long time," he said. "It's for the community, and we're giving them a show that they are going to enjoy."

>>fast facts

On the fringe

John Hopkins Middle School's first Fringe Festival is Nov. 17. It starts at 6 p.m. at the school, 701 16th St. S, St. Petersburg. Tickets: $1 per person, $5 for families with five or more members. Proceeds go to the school's magnet programs. For more information, call (727) 893-2400.

John Hopkins Middle School's Fringe Fest showcase: one campus, many performers 11/06/10 [Last modified: Friday, November 5, 2010 3:31pm]
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