For the fourth straight year, St. John Vianney School will celebrate the end of the academic year by combining two great passions — food and music.
Organizers say Grills and Guitars is a feast that will satisfy one's culinary and musical taste buds. The event, to be held May 22, will feature barbecue, burgers and hotdogs accompanied by pass-around potluck dishes for those gathered for a musical showcase by students, faculty and parents.
Chief organizer Jared Ziegler, a music teacher, began the event after the Home and School organization gave the school a grant for new guitars. He wanted the students to be able to show off the skills they had learned using the instruments.
"This started as an opportunity for students to perform in a casual and fun way," Ziegler said. "People really enjoy hearing the students, and we have had faculty, some alums and parents join in. We started out strictly as guitars, but it has expanded to vocals and other instruments.
"The event has grown a lot in a short time."
Parents man the grills
The "Grills" portion of the event was a hit from the beginning. Chad and Suzy Windsor take charge of the food.
"Even in the first year, we had more people than we expected," Suzy said. "We had to run out to the store after we started to get more food. We are better prepared now, and those who come bring enough food to share."
Each grade is responsible for bringing beverages, condiments and other supplies.
A family affair
But the event's centerpiece is the music.
This year's talent will include a brother and sister joined by another current student. Alex Sly, now a senior at Marquette High School, will play guitar while his sister, Tricia, sings a medley of Abba hits with fellow eighth-grader Emma DiPiazza.
Alex and Tricia said they believe music is a life-long calling.
"I think it's really cool to be able to perform with Alex," Tricia said. "The event is a lot of fun because everyone pretty much knows each other."
Alex said he looks forward to coming back to his former school.
"I have a lot of good memories there," he said. "I have played at this event before and it's really nice because I get to see teachers and other people. I'll also play a couple of arrangements on my own."
Music provides a chance to relax even for someone with a busy academic schedule.
That same relaxation outlet appeals to parents such as Laury Post, who will play in a parent band that evening. Post said she enjoys outlets like music and painting.
"Music is a great way to celebrate the year," Post said. The parent band formed a couple of years ago to surprise the kids.
Becky Crow, a pianist who also teaches the instrument, is also in the band.
"It shows the kids that we are part of the school's social life as well as its academics," Crow said. "It brings families together, which is important. There have been a lot of changes in family life, and the family unit is not as strong as it used to be. This is a way to help that."
For Ziegler, music is a way to nourish creativity in students.
"I think that music provides the free-thinking aspect of learning," he said. "It's an important part of a student's life, whether they pursue it as a career or a life-long interest."
St. John Vianney Principal Pam Pyzyk said the school is proud of its close-knit community. She noted the school would consider a wider community invite for Grills and Guitars.
Until then, if anyone outside of the St. John Vianney School and Parish is interested in attending this year's event, Pyzyk said they are welcome to contact the school at (262) 796-3953.
WHAT: Grills and Guitars
WHERE: Norhardt Field, at St. John Vianney School, 17500 Gebhardt Road
WHEN:6 to 8 p.m. May 22
ETC.: Non-parish members should call (262) 796-3953 before attending.
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