HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The Pioneer Valley Performing Arts School and Music and Poetry Synchronized hosting a benefit performance for the island of Puerto Rico, this after the school's trip was cancelled due to the devastating earthquakes that rocked the island earlier.
Gateway City Arts was full of music, culture, and collaboration, showcasing the work of young people from western Mass and the island of Puerto Rico.
"It’s just unbelievable. It’s incredible to finally see these kids get up on stage, perform these things that they’ve just poured their heart and soul into," event organizer Matthew King tells us.
Dozens of people packed the Gateway Center for the Arts in Holyoke on Thursday to celebrate the work of students at the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts School.
The students presenting a collaborative project where they created original songs based off poems written by their peers in Anasco, Puerto Rico.
"Just to hear what they came up with. We’ve been given these fifteen poems by these kids down in Anasco and they ran the gamut," continued King.
The class was set to visit the original authors of the poems, but after multiple earthquakes rocked the island, the trip was cancelled.
"The school said, 'Okay, we have to pull the plug on this'. There was this immediate, you know, the wind was out of the sails and everyone was kind of devastated, but it was one of the students that said, 'What can we do to help them?'," explained King.
That's when the class decided to host tonight's fundraiser.
"It’s this idea that they can turn around something, a tragedy like this, which of course is incredibly tragic for what's happening with the people of the island, so they really said, 'How can we do this? We’re going to raise some money, we’re going to give it to them, and still honor the poetry and the work that they’ve done'," says King.
For junior Analua Alencar Moreira, the event was a bittersweet moment.
"Everything that we’ve been working for has been culminating towards this particular moment, but I also don’t want it to be over," stated Analua.
And the added bonus of the funds going to help the families who inspired her and her classmates, making it even more special.
"It feels really great. I mean, I wish that we were in a place where we could physically celebrate with the poets, but right now, we're celebrating and we hope that when they see the show they'll feel as happy and as full as we are," added Analua.
Tonight's event raised more than $1,800.
All the proceeds will be going towards earthquake relief efforts.
The event was also filmed tonight and will be shown to the original poets in Puerto Rico at a later date.