Rockville High School community rallies for two of its own

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Fri., Dec. 6, 2013
Rockville High School seniors Josh Jarrett and Austin Hills perform in the band 'Outline Alaska' at the Rock Strong event on Dec. 4. Photos by Steve Smith.
Rockville High School seniors Josh Jarrett and Austin Hills perform in the band 'Outline Alaska' at the Rock Strong event on Dec. 4. Photos by Steve Smith.

The Rockville High School community came out in full force for the 'Rock Strong' benefit concert on Dec. 4. Hundreds of students, parents, siblings and other members of the community packed the auditorium at RHS, all for a good cause. Several bands and musical acts rocked the stage, while the lobby was filled with student artwork. Raffle baskets were a big hit, as was spirit of the event itself.

The school's Unity Club had organized the event after learning that two freshmen at the school are dealing with serious medical issues. The club's Brendan Kennedy, a senior, said he helped spearhead the idea. “I wanted to get the whole school involved, and show them that we are here for them,” Kennedy said. “I wanted to show people that we're here, that we care about our fellow students – we care about the people we go to school with.”

Kennedy said that the amount of support from the teachers, students and others in the community qualified the event as a success, even before the doors opened to the public. “Everyone just wanted to get involved,” he said. “They really helped put this together. The whole community wanted to show up.”

"Outline Alaska" – a band comprised of RHS seniors (including Kennedy on drums) headlined the show, playing sets at the beginning and end; and another band – "Basement Boys" – was comprised of RHS teachers Bob Keplesky, Brian Forte and Dan Lawlor. "Loveland Hill" featured former RHS Student Resource Officer Earl Middleton on guitar and lead vocals by Rachel Shuttleworth.

Several students read poetry, including senior Mike Kalencik, who read a poem he wrote about how students really learn. “The whole school inspired me,” he said. “I thought I learned more on my own than I did in the classroom.”

Kalencik said the event was great and that he and the rest of the performers were glad to be a part of it. “Anything we can do to help out those kids, I think we should,” he said. “I wish I could do more.”

“It went awesome,” said Alysse Hoagland, a counselor at RHS and the Unity Club advisor. “I was really happy with the turnout. It was a really nice night.”  

Hoagland said that while the Unity Team had its name attached to the event, it was really the work of everyone at the school. “It's been a lot of work, but seeing everyone here today made it all worth it,” she said.

One of the ill student's fathers also spoke at the event. “It's all about people caring about people and showing love for each other,” he said. “I can't tell you how special this is.”

Kennedy said that message and other feedback he heard during the event was evidence that it indeed succeeded. “People thought it was great,” he said. “They enjoyed the music. They really loved it, and they enjoyed the positive message.”

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