In the Classroom: They've got talent

Eight-year-old Marianna Mkrtichian showed no fear Thursday during a final rehearsal before a crowd of about 30 youngsters and teachers at Glendale Unified's summer camp.

She hopped and skipped around stage, all while a blue hula hoop swirled around her right ankle.

It's not one of the core academic subjects per se, but talent week at the district's Early Education & Extended Learning Program helps students become more comfortable in the classroom and among their friends, organizers said.

"It helps them with social skills, public speaking and self esteem," head teacher Sandra Rosales said. "They can surprise themselves."

A field trip to the Grammy Museum was the highlight for 10-year-old Destiny Hurley, who now says she prefers Elvis to youth sensation Justin Bieber.

"He sounds like a girl. Elvis sounds like a grown man," she said.

Destiny was the outlier in the audience when campmate Destiny Silva took the stage to sing one of Bieber's hits. The crowd squealed with shouts of "Justin Bieber" before Destiny Silva took the stage.

"That's what I like to do at my house," the 10-year-old said.

Singing was among the most prevalent talents, but dancing, juggling and karate moves were also on display. On Friday, students will perform their routines in a more formal talent show.

Campers will video and photograph the talent show for a souvenir DVD, Rosales said. A previous camp week was devoted to audio and video technology and editing.

"Some kids are more open about their talent than others, but even if they have talent, they're usually embarrassed," Rosales said. "It's on us to motivate them and have them overcome it."

Eight-year-old Omardy Bautista said there's nothing to stage fright. It's just a matter of confidence and pretending the audience isn't there.

"If you want to do a talent, you should just do it," he said. "We were scared at first, but we had to just do it."

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