New Canaan Outback News
Student Governing Board President and Vice President, Tim Casavant and Greg Zales, gave powerful speeches focused on the efforts of the SGB to engage more students, raise funds and awareness, and support various community service initiatives.
Charlie Sosnick, Steven Windas and Emily Serven (SGB members) also contributed to the event, engaging with attendees and making sure the event ran a smoothly as possible.
Ten members of the acoustic singing group, the Madrigals, performed live and 4 ballerinas from New England Academy of Dance welcomed all guests as they entered the beautifully transformed Outback for the festive evening.
Energizing Education is an afternoon of fun consisting of games, contests, prizes, music, pizza & ice cream designed for middle school children from all local towns. This fund raising event on Friday, Feb. 24th from 3-8 pm at the Outback in New Canaan was created by 25 local teens to help send underprivileged children in Nicaragua to school. Come join the fun for the entire afternoon or any part of it.
The results were significant. According to Health and Human Services director Carol McDonald, “The Winter Clothing Coat Drive was a major success that helped not only residents in New Canaan but also in surrounding areas. Over the course of six weeks we had approximately 500 pieces of coats, clothing, hats, boots, shoes, etc. donated. We gave a large portion out to Human Services clients during the holiday season, and then brought other items to Person- 2- Person in Norwalk. We are so pleased to have participated look forward to another drive next year at this time. Thank you to all of our community members who helped make the drive a total success.
New Canaan student, organizer Reed Schultz said, “We are grateful for all of those individuals who supported the clothing drive and hope this will become an annual event tied to the season of giving.”
Outback Teen Center Program Director Erin McDermott, noted, “I didn’t know what to expect when we started publicizing that we were collecting warm clothing for local families – there are so many drives out there at this time of year… but, I was overwhelmed by the positive response! It feels so good to be a part of something that can touch so many lives right around me.”
Since March, Outback Studio Manager, New Canaan resident and 2010 NCHS graduate Tommy Higbie has been offering open houses and classes for students ranging from 5th to 12th grade. Programming for this year has been made possible by a generous grant from the Young Women’s League of New Canaan. The Outback seeks to partner with local talent from performing arts and music groups who hope to record, edit and perfect their projects.
According to Tommy, “The Outback’s recording studio offers brand new equipment and skilled recording engineers who can supply every musician and organization with an affordable way to make their ideas come to life. We wanted to be sure that whether someone is a brand new artist, a seasoned music veteran, or even a student or local organization working on a recording project, the Outback’s recording studio has everything you need.”
He continued, “We’re currently offering a studio 101 class where students will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with industry-standard DAW equipment, programs, and procedures carried out in a functioning recording studio. This course will takes you through the entire recording process, from beginning to post-production, by building a unique and original song collaboration, into a final mix to take home and show your friends and family.”
When asked what about the recording studio at the Outback interested him most, Higbie replied, “From a young age I have always have been intrigued by music and the powers it has on one’s mind and emotions. I had been a self-taught guitarist and bassist for years upon entering high school, but I yearned for a new outlet for my musical expression. As luck would have it I came to realize the high school provided a mini recording program, and since then I never turned back.
The projects that I have been lucky enough to take part in at the Outback have varied from recordings of artist Nicholas Conforti, to my studio tech class for middle schoolers, to my most recent project where I have been working with the Circle of Care’s Bags of Love program at the Outback, recording fables and stories for children who have been admitted to a hospital for cancer treatment.
I really enjoy assisting with artistic development and growth in both my students and artists that come to record.”
“The Outback has been a big part of the bulk of my childhood – it has always been a great spot for me to hang out and chill with my best friends. The best part of the Outback is that it’s a benefit to New Canaan youth in a variety of ways… you can just stop by to get homework done or play video games, play shows or use the studio if you’re a musician, and attend the fun special events they host,” says Ryyan Taylor, aka DJ Hova T.
Ryyan, a New Canaan resident and NCHS grad, started coming to the Outback in middle school and continued to attend various events and drop in hours throughout his high school years. His fondest memory comes from a few years back, when he was just an aspiring, young drummer. When the Outback started promoting band nights, he wanted desperately to be involved, but did not have enough money to purchase his own drum set. Determined to play, he enlisted the help of his acoustic singer friend, Max Carillo, and some paint buckets. The two had major success, and a year later started a band. After winning the Battle of the Bands, they become the center’s House Band and played shows as often as possible!
One year ago, Ryyan Taylor started DJing, and became DJ Hova T. He stands strong behind his work, “One thing is for certain: I don’t consider DJing a hobby, but as a true passion.” He kicked off his career this summer in a big way. After booking a few local birthday parties in New Canaan, Hova started playing private gigs in Manhattan, which led to a crucial career opportunity. Alongside local rising pop star, Stewart Taylor, he got booked at the Bitter End, known for being NYC’s oldest rock club, and performed on a stage that gave a jump start to the careers of Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan and Gavin Degraw.
In an effort to stay connected to the place that supported him through his childhood, Ryyan decided to use his skills to give back. Currently, he DJs at the Outback, working special events and afternoon drop-in hours. With plans to attend Berklee College of Music next year, Ryyan works three jobs, saving money and building upon his skills in order to make a name for himself in the music industry.
“All in all, the Outback Teen Center has been truly great for me… not only from a musical standpoint, but also when it came to fun and education!”
The Outback Student Governing Board (SGB) has chosen to devote some of their time, effort and love over the next few months to Bully Breed Rescue. SGB member Lauren Perone struggled to understand why people have such a negative view of such an amazing animal, “The media makes pit bulls out to be killers, but they are so sweet and friendly… people should pay more attention to what they see, not what they hear.”
Bully Breed Rescue Inc. is a nonprofit organization, dedicated to the rescuing and re-homing of pit bull type dogs. Its mission is to find forever homes and improve the reputation of this wonderful, yet misunderstood breed. While adoptions are the primary function, outreach initiatives that help people keep their pets safe and healthy are critical to the work. Pit bulls have physical and mental characteristics that make them excellent family dogs for responsible, active and caring owners; in fact, pit bulls have been referred to as the “nanny dog,” based on their tolerance and love for children. “Bully Breed Rescue Inc. is hopeful that with the help of the Outback Teen Center, we can reach a broader community to help our rescued dogs gain exposure, and involve teens directly with rescue, rehabilitation, and proper care of animals, as well as education so they can also educate the public,” said Vice President Heidi Lueders, grateful for the SGB’s willingness to support the cause. The SGB will host small-scale fundraisers and educational events, as well as volunteer at BBR events and help take care of the animals over the next few months. Contact the Outback for information on how you can get involved too! email@example.com or 203.594.3075