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February 15, 2024

Jabberfest: Behind the Scenes

The efforts of student organizers that go into holding SHS’s beloved annual performing arts festival.
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  • Full jazz band prepared for sound test for Jabberfest.

  • Student organizers of Jabberfest preparing bass drum for sound test.

  • Student organizers of Jabberfest preparing equipment.

  • Jazz band performers warming up for Jabberfest sound test.

  • Students testing sound system for Jabberfest the next day.

  • There is a lot of hard work that goes into putting on a successful Jabberfest.

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As spring starts to come around and third quarter comes to an end, many students at SHS are craving a much-needed break from schoolwork. Luckily, Scarsdale High School’s biggest school-wide event—the performing arts festival, Jabberfest—is just around the corner. As a chance to see fellow peers show off their musical talents and cheer on friends during their performances, Jabberfest is an exciting and beloved experience for many students. However, the lightheartedness of Jabberfest is built upon the hard work of tenacious student and teacher organizers, mainly from SHS’s arts literary magazine club, Jabberwocky.

Jabberfest is almost entirely student-run, independent of teacher help. Nearly all members of Jabberwocky play a role in organizing Jabberfest which can include backstage work, monitoring doorways, being ushers, managing acts, being MCs for the show, and more. Sometimes, complications can arise like scheduling conflicts which may require cutting down the length of certain acts. It can also be difficult to manage different equipment and move around instruments like pianos, drums, and guitars on stage. With only a small group of students organizing various unique performances throughout the entire day, the process can become pretty hectic. “Honestly, it is a little crazy, but it’s so much fun. And then everyone else, everyone’s always really, really cooperative,” Arya Goyal ’25 said.

The leadership of Jabberwocky has also changed in recent years, and transitioning to a new group of people running Jabberfest has been smooth and successful thanks to students like Natasha Pereira ’24, and the new faculty advisor, Stephen Mounkhall. Pereira joined Jabberwocky in 2020 during her freshman year, and the performances were virtual due to COVID. The performances next year in 2021 would have remained virtual too, but Pereira successfully pushed to bring back in-person performances, and they have remained in-person ever since. The Jabberwocky club has also grown tremendously over the years under Pereira’s leadership and with Mounkhall’s support, from only four members when she first joined to over forty this year in 2024.

 “We’re this big, thriving club now, and I’m so happy to see that growth over my four years,” said Pereira. Mounkhall also credits Pereira and other students in Jabberwocky and part of the stage crew for the success of the past two Jabberfests held during his advisorship.

Students organizing Jabberfest have found it a complicated, but immensely rewarding experience. For many, the most gratifying part of being an organizer is seeing the performances from behind the scenes. “I love the fact that, since I’m organizing, I get to see every single period [of performances],” said Goyal. Overall, like most students and teachers in the audience, they simply love the opportunity to appreciate music and talent.

I love Jabberfest. It’s my favorite day of the year.

— Arya Goyal '25

“It’s really just a day of performance and joy,” said Mounkhall. “It’s a huge celebration of all people in Scarsdale. Like, that’s the thing, it’s that anybody who wants to can jump up here and perform, and we get to see them in all their glory. And at no other time during the year, are people so free to do what they want to do, onstage.” Dr. David Graybill, who also helps coordinate Jabberfest as the Theater Coordinator and Technical Theater Director at SHS, added.

Jabberfest is a unique day at SHS of relaxation and fun for SHS students, and it’s an outlet for performers to showcase their skills and passions. The efforts of student organizers have allowed this performing arts festival to be held every year, and they will work to preserve the inclusiveness of the show and the passionate expression of students for years to come. “You know, we don’t really have any other event at Scarsdale High School where, regardless of your talent, your age, your grade, you can perform in it if you’d like to, which I think we need to preserve about Jabberfest. That we’re inclusive to whatever kinds of acts and whatever you want to do, we’ll try and make it happen,” said Pereira.

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Stephanie Liu, Managing Editor

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