Variety Show gives local talent center stage

<p>The “Children of Polynesia” perform a hula dance during the second annual Hermiston?High School Swim Team Variety Show on Saturday.</p> <p>The group also performed a Tahitian dance.</p>

For two hours, local performers sang, danced, acted and joked their way to the spotlight on Saturday during the second annual Hermiston High School Swim Team Variety Show.

Thirty-one acts took the stage at Hermiston High School for the variety show, a fundraiser sponsored and organized by the HHS swim team and parent volunteers.

The team organized its inaugural show last year to raise money for travel expenses.

In addition to traveling for meets, the 30-member team must take a bus to Pendleton every day to practice in an indoor pool.

“We wanted to do something that would help us raise money and give back to the community,” parent and show organizer Lynne Hamblin said Saturday. “This community really needs something like this, and it's a fun event. There's great talent here in Umatilla County.”

In its first year, the show featured 18 acts and raised about $800 for the team.

This year, the organizers hoped to raise $1,500 with the 31-act performance.

“It costs us about $4,000 just to travel because we have to take a bus to Pendleton every day,” coach Kevin Hamblin said. “We're the highest budget in the school for travel, and that's because we have drive to an indoor pool for every practice.” This year's acts included a number of singers, both accompanied and a cappella, dancers, a skit, stand-up comedy and instrumental performances. The performers ranged in age from elementary students to the Rolling Hills Chorus, a Pasco-based musical ensemble of adult women. Many of those who took the stage were also members of the Hermiston High School swim team. “I've learned, after 30 years of coaching, that there are a lot of kids that are artistic, that love music. I have a couple of kids who sing, one did the comedy act, a couple are doing lights and sound,” Hamblin said. “That's in addition to helping out.” One of the students to take the stage and hit the pool was Hannah Christensen, who sang Adele's “One and Only.” “It's a lot of fun to do something like this,” she said Saturday. “We can get members of the community to show their talent, members of the swim team, and we raise money for the swim team at the same time. It's just a lot of fun, and it's for a good cause.” By the end of the night, volunteers said the event was very close to its fundraising goal without adding in proceeds from a bake sale hosted at intermission. Much of the funding came from a raffle the team hosted. Three prizes, a $50 gift card, an iPad and a spa day at Simply Divine Day Spa, were drawn and given away during the talent show. “I think we'll make it, or at least come very close,” Kevin Hamblin said. “I'd love to keep it going and do it again next year. I've had a blast.” At the end of the variety show, parent volunteer and emcee Kevin Christensen called the members of the swim team to stand in front of the curtain. The students stretched across the entire stage as Christensen and Hamblin thanked the students both for helping organize the event and for participating on the team even with the travel challenges. “It takes a lot of time and dedication to get on a bus and ride for 45 minutes every day, swim for an hour and drive back,” Kevin Christensen said. “These are some great kids.”

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