Monson-Sultana students show their ‘corazon’ in lip sync contest

Small K-8 school district takes first and second place in Friday Night Live Lip Sync Competition

TULARE COUNTY – Two rural school districts stole the show at 32nd annual Friday Night Live Lip Sync Competition.

Students at Monson-Sultana Joint Union School showed off their creative sides and won first and second place while Oak Valley Union School placed third, the Tulare County Office of Education announced last week.

Monson-Sultana’s video performance of Corazón Espinado by Carlos Santana featuring Maná won first place with eighth-graders Gilbert Camarillo and Elizabeth Quintero providing impassioned portrayals of Santana and Maná’s lead singer, Fher Olvera, respectively. Margaret Vazquez, Justin Valdez, Alexa Solorio, and Yaritzi Jimenez also played Maná band members.

In second place, eighth-grader Aaliyah Costa gave it her all as Jon Bon Jovi in a lip-synced video performance of Livin’ on a Prayer. She was joined by Delilah Velazquez, Kimberly Vazquez, Brianna Figueroa, and Layla Ramirez. In their performance, the group’s black and white video transformed into a colorful serenade, complete with some “fans.”

Monson-Sultana’s videos were performed by members of the FUEL after school program. The groups were coached by Miley Corcoran, Catherine Diaz, and Valerie Burciaga. Burciaga also handled the videography. Monson-Sultana is a K-8 school in the unincorporated communities located west of Dinuba. It enrolls about 450 students each year.

Taking third place with a dance routine to Wayfarer’s Follow the Leader was the Oak Valley Union dance and cheer team. The group’s performance included a choreographed dance, as well as stunts. Oak Valley is a K-8 school in Tulare with an enrollment of about 600 students.

The FNL Lip Sync Competition is open to grades 6-8 and includes three categories: lip sync, dance, and novelty. Due to COVID-19, the competition was held virtually using video submissions, and all categories were combined into one competition.

Friday Night Live creates opportunities for school-age youth to be involved in high energy, life affirming activities promoting abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gang participation, and violence. Participation in this activity encourages the productive use of after-school time, develops students’ talents and self-confidence, and recognizes their achievements.

Monson-Sultana’s FUEL program manager, Catherine Diaz, said the lip sync performances provided students a way to break out of their shells and be a part of something.

“We call this the Lip Sync curse,” Diaz said. “After a kid is in lip sync, they are loud and transformed. That is how Bon Jovi (Aaliyah) became Bon Jovi. She was a returning lip sync performer.”

The competition was not held last year, but Monson-Sultana did win two awards in the 2019 competition as well.

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