On November 9, 2011, Saddle Brook High School's literary magazine, the Unicorn, and its advisers hosted an Open Mic Night. It provided a free, safe environment for students to express themselves through singing, dancing, playing instruments, and reading poems.
About 30 students attended, a much larger audience than the club members or teachers had anticipated.
The night consisted of karaoke, original musical performances, and poetry readings. The school's select choir, the Choraleers, performed a few songs that they also sang at the winter concert this year.
The gathering took place inside the school due to harsh weather conditions in Mr. Garvey's English class room. “We had a grandiose vision of a warmly-lit courtyard hosting poetry slams, acoustic sets, and whatever else folks felt like performing,” said Mr. Garvey, one of the advisers of the Unicorn Club.
“Everyone was so open about what everybody had to share and the overall atmosphere was laid back and casual so no one was quiet or nervous in their performance,” said Aishah Ahmed, a senior at SBHS.
The teachers and Unicorn Club agreed that they would like to plan another Open Mic Night very soon, in the hopes that more students will strike up an interest in the performing arts and come out to support each other. “It seems as though the venues through which Saddle Brook High School students are able to express themselves are increasing,” said Mr. Millan, Unicorn adviser.
The SBHS art program is expanding with the devoted assistance of Mr. Garvey and Mr. Millan. “I think that Mr. Millan and Mr. Garvey are exactly what the school's art department needs,” said Dan Roman, an SBHS graduate who attended the event. “They're absolutely perfect for the job, and they've brought so many great, new ideas that have given the program new life.”
“I felt very comfortable,” said senior Destiny Rodriguez. “Everybody was very supportive. We didn't judge each other. I was very relaxed.”
Roman also felt very at home upon his return to the school. “I felt so welcomed that it was as if I never left. I couldn't believe how warm of a greeting I got when I walked in the room. It was seriously heartwarming, and it made me proud to be an SBHS Alumnus. There is a sense of community there that is really special.”
The overall favorite performance of the night seemed to be Mr. Millan’s and Mr. Garvey’s rendition of Bob Dylan's “The Times They Are A-Changin.”
“Honestly, what I enjoyed most was just being a musician and a lover of language for a moment—not just a teacher,” Mr. Garvey said.
The next Open Mic Night will take place in the courtyard in May.