I’ve been to Payson Education Center more than once. Each visit has been different. This incident turned out to be unexpectedly, quite entertaining.
As I entered the building, kids were moving chairs, running up and down aisles, singing, doing short dance routines and raising a small ruckus in a cacophony of sound. I felt comfortable already.
Off in a room near the stage, Tyler Lombardo was shuffling a deck of cards and practicing a few card tricks. Classmates were watching, and wondering; “How’d he do that?”
Well OK, there is no stage at Payson Education Center; entertainment area, is more accurate.
Lombardo, who had several card tricks up his proverbial sleeve, even though he wore a short sleeve shirt, was the ice breaker, in more ways than one. And that, in itself is a trick.
His first victim, ah hum, volunteer, from the audience was Teena Festa. Lombardo did a card switcheroo trick that had Festa, and a majority of the audience, amazed and wondering how he turned a jack into a three, or was it a three into a jack? Hmm ...
His playful manner, and friendly demeanor, warmed up the audience and had them eager for more. He set the stage and the standard for the other students and teachers to follow.
For many students this was their first time standing up in front of an audience and performing. Not an easy activity, especially for young people who are just reaching out and touching the world to find who they are and where they are going.
There were eight different performances by students and staff. A standout delight was the sign language class version of the Bing Crosby standard, “White Christmas.” Peggy Miles, principal at Payson Education Center, led her class in American Sign Language as they followed her smooth lead. Families of the students, staff, and other students exploded with applause, whistles and a few shouts when the song ended.
Before the talent show began, pizza, beverages and dessert were served. The variety of pizza had everyone testing the different kinds, which led some to not try the wonderful sweets at the end of the meal.
Some of the students were still practicing and had a few jitters, before going on stage, as they had not performed in front of family, friends and peers before. The experience may have whetted the appetites of some students to do more of this. It could turn into an excellent way to find themselves. Of course, others may have found that performing is not for them.
What better way to find your path?
Each month a new experience is on tap for the students at Payson Education Center. This one was kind of special. The students and staff spent much time after school practicing, learning tricks, learning songs and dance routines and were always guided by their teachers in a helpful and friendly manner.
The staff also received recognition for their efforts through applause, cheers and wows of enthusiastic students.
The next activity night is Thursday, Jan. 13 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It is a game night. The Payson Education Center mascot is the “Titans.”
I left knowing I’ll return for more. PEC students share a common joy of life and a different perspective from the ordinary. Like I said, my kind of place.