Class of 2022 hosts virtual Coffeehouse



Junior Class of 2022 hosts a virtual Coffeehouse amid COVID-19 concerns. Shown above is performer Ella Lukowiak in 2019’s Coffeehouse.

Isabella Ji

Switching from a live cafeteria audience to the MCVSD’s YouTube channel audience, 37 students showcased their talents in the annual CHS Coffeehouse that aired at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec.17.

Unlike previous years, Coffeehouse was held virtually this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, similarly to past coffeehouses, the YouTube video featured the same setup with hosts and even an intermission.

There were two sets of hosts for each act; juniors Nicola DeGregorio of Middletown and Quinn Hoagland of Colts Neck hosted the first act while the second act spotlighted juniors Drew Lepping of West Long Branch and Michele Roman of Neptune.

To prepare for this year’s Coffeehouse, the Class of 2022 class council had to pay careful attention to details that would not have mattered if the event was live, such as making sure that the video would air at the right time and ensuring that students would have enough time to film their entries. 

Junior class council member Fiona Macchia of Holmdel and council advisor Karen Britto mentioned the differences they and the rest of the council had to face in preparation for the event.

From the beginning, we knew that we had to have a Coffeehouse this year and carry on the sacred CHS tradition. The question was when, and more importantly, how?” Macchia said. “It was obviously very different from previous Coffeehouses, so we had to brainstorm creative ways to get people involved especially because of the different cohorts.”

“In previous years there were, of course, a lot more in person meetings,” Britto said. “Additionally, there were more aspects of the event to plan — refreshments, decorations, ticket design, ticket sales etc.”

Before the video aired, the co-vice president of the junior class, Hannah Schwartzberg of Ocean, lined up 26 pre-made videos of the students’ performances into a compilation.

I gathered together footage of performers, as well as the hosts, and added in special effects, music, etc., to make it all come together,” Schwartzberg said. “It was a huge project, and despite many sleepless and stressful nights, I’m really proud of how it came out and hope everyone enjoyed it.”

Not only was the setup for this event different, some performers claimed that the performance preparation and experience was different as well.

Junior Gina Dige of Howell, who had performed in the last two Coffeehouses, said that the main distinction between the virtual and in-person event is the audience.

I feel like I perform better when there are faces to look at and smiles beaming back at you” Dige said. “If you don’t have anyone to connect with, it’s difficult to show emotion while singing or whatever you may be doing, which is what brings the performance to life.”

As a first time performer, freshman Millana Young of Ocean said that practicing and recording her performance was simpler than she would imagine in-person Coffeehouse being.

“I practiced the pacing of the song a lot, and I made sure I had my chords on my laptop just in case I needed them,” Young said. “I think there was a lot less pressure, as you could record at your own pace until you liked the video you had, whereas in person you have only one shot.”

Since this Coffeehouse broadcasted without the intent of fundraising, the junior class plans to fundraise with other events such as a potential, in-person fundraising event, similar to the annual Coffeehouse, in the spring.

We are hoping to hold another Coffeehouse later in the year so that there’s a chance it could be in person,” Macchia said. “We’re trying to figure out fun and COVID-friendly ways to fundraise for the class, and hopefully we can have the second Coffeehouse and use that one as a fundraiser.”

Fundraising aside, Britto explains her motive to plan events during this time: to help boost the morale of CHS.

I have the utmost faith in the ability of the junior class and the junior class council to develop creative fundraising ideas. We’ve also discussed that money is not necessarily a priority at this difficult time. We are focused on class unity and providing activities that offer a sense of stress relief to the entire community.”