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Night of the Arts a big hit at Sierra High
Sierra High senior Samantha Alejandre, right, is presented flowers and friends after the Nights of the Arts. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin
Senior projects may soon become a casualty of Manteca Unified’s $23.5 million budget shortfall.

But that may not mark the end of the “Night of the Arts” at Sierra High, according to athletic director Greg Leland.

“We’re hoping to keep it going as a fundraising event for scholarships,” he said at Friday’s second-ever event benefitting the school’s drama department.

Leland’s daughter, Brittany, initiated the “Night of the Arts” a year ago as her senior project, with Samantha Alejandre taking on the responsibility this year in an effort to fulfill her graduation requirement.

“Sam needed very little guidance,” said her senior project mentor, Arabella Whitlock. “She did most of the work.”

Alejandre, in turn, was thankful to have the stage-hand experience of Whitlock, who also had a helping hand when Brittany Leland took on the task.

The younger Leland (vocals) along with fellow Sierra alumnae Jessica Campos (vocals, keyboard) and Jonni Rogers (dance) were back, performing for Alejandre’s senior project.

Added Greg Leland, who served as master of ceremonies: “It’s great to have our graduates come back and help out.”

He’s hoping to schedule “Night of the Arts” each year on the Friday prior to the spring break. “That’s when most of our graduates are home from college,” said Leland.

The “Night of the Arts” also marked Alejandre’s singing debut. She performed the Mandy Moore song, “Cry.”

Noted more for her work in drama, she admitted being nervous prior to her solo number.

“I was almost having a panic attack,” recalled Alejandre.

Her previous musical experience was in the choir as a sixth-grade student at Brock Elliott School.

Alejandre not only performed the song but also acted in a skit entitled “The Philadelphia” with her younger sister, Kimberly, a sophomore, and Nico Valencia.

Other performers included seniors Brad Bergstrom, Chris Choate, Courtney Whitlock and Becca Whitlock.

Becca Whitlock played two her own original songs on the keyboard – “Let’s Take the Walk” and “Tel Aviv” – while Bergstrom, who played both guitar and keyboard, also wrote a song.

“It’s my song but I don’t have a name for it,” he said.

Choate, who sang and played the trombone, performed a Jazz medley accompanied by Barbara Pinto-Choate (keyboard, percussion), Pete Villanueva (guitar), and Ruben Gonzalez (percussion).

In addition, Bri Alejandre and Anthony Rebiero performed a skit entitled, “Because I said so.”

In the aftermath, Greg Leland praised the performances.

“It’s great to see that we have so much talent at Sierra,” he noted.