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Perez-A-Palooza a Hit in Croton

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – Faculty, staff and friends came together to celebrate the life of Francis Perez, and to donate to a memorial scholarship fund in her name at Perez-a-Palooza in late January. Over $10,000 was raised for after-school programs and the Fran Perez Memorial Scholarship Fund.

“There are a bunch of hams in this district,” said Marlena Roberts, a teacher at Carrie E. Tompkins who organized the event. “Those hams provided a phenomenal evening of entertainment!”

Roberts, who also runs a summer children's theater school, brainstormed the idea for Perez-A-Palooza just one month before the big show. All proceeds from Perez-a-Palooza will go toward the Fran Perez Memorial Scholarship Fund, to help more CET students participate in after-school programs. Roberts hopes to hire an aide for students who wish to participate in after-school programs, but need extra assistance.

CET Principal Kelly Maloney said prepping for the fundraiser “consumed” the staff at one point. Over 20 acts performed at Perez-a-Palooza, including Maloney herself, as Lady Gaga. Superintendent Edward Fuhrman also put on a theatrical performance, titled “Croton Snow Day.”

DVD sales, ticket sales, a PTA and SEPTA bake sale and raffle all helped raise funds for the memorial scholarship fund. The Perez family was also in attendance, and helped the scholarship fund reach its goal through a generous donation.

The backstage mood was also decidedly upbeat. “It's difficult to get a bunch of people together at the same time. However, it was a labor of love,” said Maloney. “We all loved Fran. It was nice to see everyone come together for something like this. It was also nice to see everyone's talents!”

Perez served for many years as an aid at CET, as a one-on-one aid to students with special needs. She supported many after-school programs, and the Fran Perez Memorial Scholarship Fund will allow more students to participate in CET’s after-school programs. Roberts is hoping to be able to hire an aid for these afterschool programs, for students who need assistance.

Perez was beloved in the community, evidenced by incredible ticket sales during the first week the performance was announced. In a little over four days a second performance had to be added to Perez-a-Palooza, because the initial 7 p.m. show had already sold out .

In addition to district employees, many outside volunteers contributed, including professional musicians Michael Katzman, Bill Roberts and Nate Brewster, as well as Kenny Simmons of the legendary Commodores. Simmons traveled from New Jersey to be part of the show. Before the show started, he said, “It's going to be great. It's supporting a good cause, and I'm proud to be a part of it.”

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