Teens put their spotlight on creativity at Locust Valley High School


Spotlight Night, an annual event where all Locust Valley High School students are invited to express themselves creatively through song, dance and poetry, was held on April 7 in the high school’s mini-theater. Interest in participating in this “celebration of brave and creative students” has increased so much that it now seems reasonable to expect the event be moved to the large auditorium. But LVHS principal Dr. Kieran McGuire said that won’t be happening and for good reason. “We want to keep it feeling like a coffeehouse setting, since that’s what it was originally meant to be,” McGuire explained. “Keeping it in here as opposed to the auditorium helps maintain that feeling.”

The members of Perspective, the high school’s literary magazine, run Spotlight Night. The magazine showcases student’s stories, poems and pictures so it made sense to take it one step further and provide an opportunity for some of these creative endeavors to be shared live.

Spotlight Night debuted during the 2010-11. The inspiration for the event to be in a coffeehouse setting was derived from slam poetry, traditionally performed in a dark room where people snap, instead of clap. But at LVHS the audience clap at Spotlight Night and sometimes the applause is quite loud.

Perspective advisor and International Baccalaureate English teacher Dave Coonan has been in charge of Spotlight Night and involved with Perspective since the 2011-12 school year. Coonan said he enjoys being an active part of something that allows young people to express themselves in a creative and progressive way.

Because Spotlight Night does not require funding from the district, it is an easy event to put on for the students. “Previously, we charged Spotlight Night attendees, but we realized that there is no need to because there is no cost to put it on,” he explained, adding that the students run the event. “You also get more people to go when it’s free, so the event gains more exposure.”

Held once a year, except during the 2012-13 school year when it was held twice at the request of the club president, Perspective’s coffeehouse night attracts students who invent their own material, play instruments, and sometimes just sing popular songs with their friends. This year, songs by popular artists such as Vance Joy and Demi Lovato were sung, along with guitar playing, dance performances and even a heartfelt monologue. One student, a junior at LVHS, was frightened to sing but after receiving encouragement from those involved with Perspective, was able to get up on the stage and perform.

Spotlight Night has not only given students an avenue to express themselves; it has also helped Perspective to grow. Organizers hope that interest among students will continue to grow for years to come.