Schenectady County

Local band plays for student critics in Niskayuna

The Velmas skipped over the standard rock band greeting this morning, avoiding asking the Iroquois M
Iroquois Middle School sixth-grader Jean Deaton, 12, left, gets the special privilege of playing the drums for her birthday along with Michael Bruce of The Velmas on Friday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Iroquois Middle School sixth-grader Jean Deaton, 12, left, gets the special privilege of playing the drums for her birthday along with Michael Bruce of The Velmas on Friday.

The Velmas skipped over the standard rock band greeting this morning, avoiding asking the Iroquois Middle School sixth graders if they were ready to rock.

But the Albany-based band still knew how to work their audience.

“What’s happening, Mrs. Callagan’s class?” drummer Mike Bruce asked with emphasis. “I heard this is the coolest class in school, true or false?”

With their applause, the students signaled the drummer’s assumption was true.

This was the sixth year the band has given a concert at the school. English teacher Heather Callagan is a fan of the band and worked them into her unit on critical review.

Students have worked in recent weeks, studying the band, its albums and lyrics and then giving their opinion — good or bad.

Getting to see the band itself makes the students more invested in their work, Callagan said.

“The thought of the band coming to school and giving a concert really excites them and gets them into it,” she said.

The band, known for playful lyrics, played in the school’s auditorium/cafeteria. During part of the performance, school employees set up the other half of the room for lunch.

At one point, the band invited student Jean Deaton to help on drums. The band sang “Happy Birthday” in honor of Deaton’s 12th.

“It was really embarrassing,” she said afterward. “Everyone was looking at me.”

Her review of the performance?

“It was good,” she said. “They have a really good sound.”

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