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Spanish karaoke event raises hundreds for charity

Ninth grader Scott La Marca, 15, strums his

Ninth grader Scott La Marca, 15, strums his guitar, performing "Llama al Sol," by musical artist Tito el Bambino with his Spanish II class during "Karoke Latino" at Herricks High School. (March 2, 2012) (Credit: Newsday.com staff)

Underneath bright lights, two students kicked a soccer ball back and forth on stage, as 15 students behind them sang Ricky Martin’s hit song "La Copa de la Vida."

Belting out the lyrics in Spanish and wearing matching orange T-shirts, the students watched the words scroll on a television monitor just off the stage as they danced in unison to the music.

They were among more than 350 students from 18 Spanish classes who performed Friday night during "Karaoke Latino," a fundraising event at Herricks High School to benefit a children's charity.

"I love the chorus of the song," said senior Paul Malonoukos, 18, after he and his classmates performed the song "El Poeta" by Chino y Nacho. "Last year here, I decided to go out with a bang."

Nathaniel Ramdhany, 16, was in the audience singing and dancing to the performances that drew a crowd that filled the high school’s auditorium. The crowd sang along to songs and waved their hands back and forth in the air.

"I’m not a singer or dancer, but we’re here to have fun and do something for charity," said Ramdhany, who is vice president of the Spanish Honor Society, which hosted the event.

With attendees and performers donating at least $5 to watch or participate, the event raised about $1,700. The proceeds are being donated to Queens-based Corazón a Corazón New York, a nonprofit that funds medical treatment for Colombian children suffering from congenital heart disorders.

Elizabeth Alford, a member of the nonprofit’s board of directors, said that, since its inception about 30 years ago, the organization has helped more than 1,000 children in New York by donating money to hospitals for surgical operations and feeding the children's families.

"This afternoon has been a total inspiration," Alford said. "They are all having a wonderful time and they’re learning a new language and they all seem to be doing well and at the same time they’re going to be helping a child."

Spanish teacher Tania DeSimone, who started the karaoke event three years ago, said the students practiced for the last two weeks getting ready for Friday night’s karaoke event.

"I wanted to find an organization that was local and that we could connect with," she said. "This event brings passionate students and their community together."

Four judges rated the performers on their singing, choreography, interpretation and school spirit, presenting the winners with awards designed to look like Oscars. Just about every class received at least one award.

Jesse Goldman, 25, who graduated from Herricks High School in 2004 and now volunteers for Corazón a Corazón, said that even a couple hundred dollars could help.

"I’m actually amazed how it was embraced and received so well by both the staff and students," he said. "Hopefully something like this we can build upon and maybe create a youth group for the organization and do something that will snowball."

Above: Ninth-grader Scott La Marca, 15, strums his guitar at Herricks High School's Karaoke Latino fundraiser.

Tags: New Hyde Park

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