I was blown away by this 7th grader.
I was a returning judge for the very popular Yarmouth's Got Talent. It's a show thrown by the Yarmouth Music Boosters. They are a small group of parents who value music education in schools. They want to provide financial and volunteer support for the enrichment activities of the K-12 Music Teachers that are not covered in the budget. They cover things like field trips, sheet music, concert attire, Jazz Festival support, YPAC sound, and light improvements. Yarmouth's Got Talent is a big fundraiser and it sold out this year in less than 60 seconds!
Not to take anything away from all of the amazing acts. There were kids from kindergarten to seniors singing, dancing, in bands, and even quick Rubik's cube solving! All the acts were spectacular - but when 13-year-old, 7th grader AJ Hardcastle walked on stage to do a ventriloquist act...well, it's not every day you hear all those words together. She took first place in her age category.
AJ was fantastic and had the crowd of 500 laughing the whole time. I asked how AJ started and how long she had been at ventriloquism. Well, not long at all about a year to two years. Funny how that coincides with that pesky pandemic. That does play a role. AJ found Darcy Lynne, who won America's Got Talen back in 2017. Something clicked and she tried her hand at it. She got Penelope for her 12th birthday thanks to Nana and Bumpa.
Penelope made several appearances during remote classes and teachers and students loved her. AJ and Penelope develop their own routines. They chat and AJ works on something that Penelope will say that strikes her as funny. Don't tell Penelope, but AJ has other loves including karate (second-degree brown belt), is always on the high honor roll, is active with the school's civil rights team, and is always working to make Harrison Middle School a better more welcoming place for everyone.Here's a little about Penelope.