February 28, 2020 was Girls’ Show’s 75th performance. Mrs. Kathleen Dellanno, English Teacher and Director of Girls’ Show, sat down with the Valley Echo to describe her experiences as a member of Girls’ Show as a student and monitoring and directing the show, which she does with the help of Mrs. Jamie Picarelli, Mrs. Amy Pellegrini, and Mrs. Suzanne Benvenuti, as a teacher.
Megan Morales, Valley Echo reporter: With personal experience in Girls’ Show, as both a performer and an advisor, what stands out the most about the teamwork and unity of all the girls?
Mrs. Kathleen Dellanno: I think teamwork and unity is the foundation for Girls’ Show. As a team member and a committee head when I was in high school, I formed many friendships and working relationships with my classmates that have lasted throughout the years. I have been an adviser and the Director for 24 years. One of our goals with this show is to teach the girls how to work together for a common goal, and that involves compromise at times. The togetherness that takes place, while a relationship that creates friendship and trust, can create friction at times, and teammates must learn how to work through that. The experience provides participants with multiple skills that are transferable to life.
M.M.: What did you learn while a performer in Girls’ Show?
K.D: Well, I learned many lessons as a Committee Head, some of the most important being how to motivate people, to maintain patience, and to lead by example. I think my responsibilities helped make me become a better teacher. As we tell the Heads each year, berating people is not going to encourage them to be better. In addition, I learned a great deal about time management skills, collaboration, and responsible management.
M.M: What were your favorite years as Director?
K.D: I would have to say the years that my daughter [Danielle] participated were quite special, for we got to spend a lot of time together, and as I watched her grow as a leader and she saw me in a role other than “mom,” we formed a closer bond than we already had. Throughout the years, there are certain teams with whom we developed strong bonds and certain girls with whom I formed relationships and friendships that I still hold today. I love to see former participants bring their daughters to the show! The camaraderie and the mutual respect built during certain years are most certainly my favorite. Mentoring young women is extremely gratifying. The years that our efforts brought the true spirit of Girls’ Show to the teams were certainly our must successful and enjoyable.
K.D: Oh, yes. In the beginning, I think they were marching in wearing gym suits; a few years later, they started wearing costumes, and the show blossomed into an extravaganza. Creativity is the element of the show that has not changed, nor has the enthusiasm of both participants and spectators. Today, the show is much more athletic, which is reflected in the costumes. The routines are more complex, and they are longer. Technology has also helped to bring excitement to the show. We couldn’t splice music back then, so complete songs were played consecutively. Today, the girls can create a story with music, sound effects, and blurbs.
However, I feel the commitment to our team color was much more important in the past. We were absolutely much more centered on our White Team or our Green Team as a whole rather than our individual event. What I find today is that girls are much too centered on winning their event and not as concerned about the other events.
Finally, I think the friendships built are still the same. Teammates become extremely close, and often, friendships last for a lifetime. The enthusiasm and excitement have also never changed.
K.M: What do you feel the impact Girls’ Show has been on the school and the community?
K.D: The impact on our school is tremendous, and for years it has generated school spirit. Everyone gets excited, even the boys rooting for the girls to win. Girls’ Show makes our school proud, because there are other [events like this] in Northern New Jersey and they don’t hold a candle to the spectacle [of Girls’ Show]. People are awed by the excellence, precision, and professionalism. Some people tell me it’s like going to a Broadway show. The enthusiasm in the gym is palpable; the professional judges we hire are consistently awed by the excitement of the crowd and the appreciation and support shown to the girls as well as by the talent, stamina, and commitment that is visible on the floor.
Girls’ Show is truly a large part of Hornet pride and tradition. In the community, little girls grow up wanting to be in Girls’ Show. I was one of those girls. My aunt was in it in the 1940’s, so my daughter was a third-generation participant. Again, it gives a sense of pride to our community to showcase such talent, creativity, athleticism, and showmanship.
K.M: How will the 75th Anniversary be celebrated?
K.D: We began our year with a leadership breakfast for all committee heads; former participants were invited to speak to the girls about the impact their participation in the show had on their lives. They offered advice and encouragement, successfully empowering the girls.
We’re planning on having a huge celebration in May, open to all Girls’ Show participants from the past. We want to have stations set up showing past years of the show, and we plan to put on a fashion show of Girls’ Show costumes throughout the years. We plan to end the evening dancing, enjoying seeing friends, and celebrating such a unique, wonderful experience.