BRISTOL – While the Salvation Army is most well known for their bells at Christmas, members are involved in the community in many more ways.
Beyond the soup kitchen and food pantry is the afterschool program, the Creative Arts and Music Academy.
The CAM Academy recently won first place in every category at the music, dance and drama competition, the Southern New England Divisional Star Search.
The afterschool program, for children ages 6 through 17, teaches children music, dance and drama while providing transportation and a full meal. Most of their students come from low-income homes.
More than 15 students competed as a drama troupe, singing company, drama solo and dance solo against 10 other Salvation Army teams in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
“We were so proud of them. A lot of these kids just started in February,” Lt. Shareena Echavarria said. “Some of them didn’t even think they had talent, so to place first was a big deal.
“There was a lot of camaraderie as well. When you come from a different school in Bristol, it can be cliquey when they start, but competing, it was beautiful for them to come together like that.”
Their performances were judged based on diction, expression, stage presence and more for drama; diction, accuracy, harmony and more for singing; and technique, expression, choreographic tools and more for dance. Each group in the competition had specific theatrical pieces and songs; only the dance troupe was allowed to pick their own song.
With their first places, the students will move on to compete against 11 other division winners in the Territorial Star Search in White Plains, N.Y., on June 10.
“It’s a really cool opportunity for them, to teach them something and for them to be proud of what they’ve accomplished. We hope the community will want to see that too,” Echavarria said.
The community was invited to see the students showcase their talents that won them first place in every category at the CAM Academy Finale Concert on Monday night.
Donations will go to funding the CAM Academy students trip to the Territorial Star Search competition in White Plains, N.Y.
For more information, contact Echavarria at Shareena.Echavarria@use.salvationarmy.org.