Students’ goodwill brings singer to school

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
by Laraine Weschler

NAUGATUCK — For an hour Monday, the sweltering gym of Hop Brook Elementary School was transformed into a concert venue with young fans screaming the lyrics to “Beautiful Life” along with the Connecticut singer who won “American Idol” in 2015.

Students in lime green T-shirts greeted local music star Nick Fradiani by waving photos of his face and the words “Hop Brook Rocks with Nick” on the back.

“I heard you guys have been so awesome. You guys ready to sing,” Fradiani told the crowd of 320 elementary students. “You’re going to love this because you can yell really loud and your teachers can’t get mad at you.”

The school won the concert by donating 35,060 items to Goodwill in a contest against 327 competing schools in Northwestern Connecticut, according to first grade teacher Debbie Langdon.

In the second year of the “Bag it up for Goodwill” contest, Hop Brook donated 10 times the number of items that last year’s winner donated, according to Vickie Volpano, president of Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut.

She said it’s important for children to understand the importance of sharing with others.

The performance was a hit with 10-year-old Brendan Cummings.

“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “It was exciting and I liked the fact that we got to sing along.”

Kellen Maher, 9, said he had heard of Fradiani from the television show and the whole school listened to his songs before morning announcements leading up to the event.

Langdon said Hop Brook families posted about the contest on social media, becoming more excited as the school moved up in the rankings.

“It was just a beautiful thing to see so many families in the school come together,” Langdon said. “When everyone is working toward the same goal, you know, you can move mountains.”

The school also won $1,000 and cupcakes from Nora’s Cupcake Company.

After Fradiani played a few of his songs, the students surprised him with a song of their own, an anti-bullying parody of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.”

Fradiani said he’s never played for an elementary school before.

“I’m not going to lie. I think you guys are the best crowd I’ve ever played in front of,” Fradiani told the students.

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