This year’s K-Factor brought many outstanding performers to the Huntington High School stage and drew what’s believed to be the largest crowd in the history of the annual talent show last Friday night.
Coordinated by the school’s Key Club, the extravaganza typically raises money that goes to Huntington’s Relay For Life, which benefits the American Cancer Society. This year’s show took on a more personal tone as students and staff rallied on behalf of English teacher Aimee Antorino’s daughter, Rachel, who is currently battling a serious illness. Repeated chants of “Rachel strong” could be heard late in the show as the crowd loudly proclaimed its support for the brave little girl.
The Key Club’s executive board includes Maggie Giles (president), Erica Vazquez (Vice President), Gaia D’Anna (treasurer), Sam Sgrizzi (publicist), Megan Erhardt (secretary), Francesca Greco (junior treasurer), administrative assistants David Fredericks, Ryan Hoffman, Nick Haupt and Noah Morris. English teachers Gina Colica and Kelly Krycinski serve as the organization’s faculty advisors.
“The K-Factor has been a significant part of my life for the past few years, but this year in particular it took a new place in my heart,” Key Club President Maggie Giles said. “I am thankful to have this opportunity to give back to a teacher who has always been there for me and my classmates. Watching the Key Club, Relay Committee and the entire community come together was inspiring. The sense of pride the officers and I had at the end of the show was beyond words and the amount of work put in by each and every individual really showed the night of the show.”
The K-Factor draws its name from Huntington High School alum and former Key Club member Kaila Harlan. A member of the Class of 2009, she was diagnosed with leukemia while attending college. Her alma mater organized the first show to help raise money to cover expenses related to her treatment. She passed away on August 29, 2013 at age 22.
The huge crowd at the sixth annual show last Friday was enthusiastic, applauding for acts that included singing, dancing, instrumental and comedy numbers. There was even a robot on stage during a dance act. English teacher and drama club advisor Michael Schwendemann performed his master of ceremonies duties with his typical flair.
“All the hard work really pays off when you get to witness the community coming together to support such an amazing cause, and having so much fun at the same time,” Ms. D’Anna said.
A team of judges sat a long table in the orchestra pit and took notes on each of the acts before retiring to discuss the performances. When the group returned, Sarah James was presented with first place honors. Manyara Cuadra, Sonia Chemerisov and Arelis Batista-Pacheco captured second place with Thomas Stock garnering third place.
“The K-Factor is an event that brings the community together for a ton of fun,” Ms. Vazquez said. “But this year was different as we were able to help someone who was close to our hearts. Everyone did their very best for this one special cause, which made this year’s show better than the rest.”
Huntington High School Principal Brenden Cusack participated in the comedy skit staged by teachers and staff members. Superintendent James W. Polansky could be seen off to the side shooting video and taking photos. Huntington School Board members were in the house, too.
“We would like to thank all of our judges and teachers who were involved the night of the show, as well as the students who took the timeout from their busy schedules to support a great cause,” Ms. Giles said. “And we were truly honored to have the Antorino family there with us in our efforts to raise money for Rachel’s treatment. Their presence made the night all the more special.”
Dozens of local businesses donated raffle items, which helped raise thousands of dollars for the cause. The generous sponsors include Mitchells, Panera Bread, Grasso’s, Restaurant Joanina, Zinburger, Lot 356, Sensational, Salon 44, The Village Creperie, Oaxaca, P.F. Chang’s, Optical Shoppe, Cow Harbor Fine Gifts & Collectibles, Tommy Bahama, Ben & Jerry’s, Bicycle Playground, Beauty Bar, Elysian Hair Spa, Song’s Foot Spa, Wild Flower, Einstein’s Attic, Cow Over the Moon, Escape Pod Comics, Bon Bons Chocolatier, Harbor Hounds, Tres Jolie, Tudor Jewelers, Red, La Chic Beauty Salon, The Jewelry Room, Osteria da Nino, Towne Boutique, Colors of Cold Spring Harbor, Noli Design, Sandy O’s Faces, Pink Link, Sweeties, Kadella Jewelers and Joanina Wine.