Hundreds of community residents, students, and alumni packed the Howard T. Herber Middle School auditorium in Malverne on Sept. 21 to watch American Idol Season 10 contestant Robbie Rosen perform a benefit concert.
“It was awesome to have so much support from all the kids.Mmy ears are still hurting,” said Rosen, who lives in Merrick but has a close connection to the Malverne school district as his father, Matt, is a social worker at Herber. “I felt the energy of the crowd and just worked off that. Just an incredible night.”
The performance was organized by the Save Frost Valley committee, a group of parents working to preserve the Malverne school district's sixth grade field trip to Frost Valley YMCA, which was cut from the 2012-13 budget.
Since earning fame on Idol in early 2011 by making it to the Top 16, Rosen has been working non-stop, writing songs and performing throughout the area. He’s gained an enthusiastic fan base, including many Malverne students who swarmed the stage several times throughout the show, reaching for high fives from Rosen, or, in one case, his hat.
Matt Rosen was quick to point out though that “this concert is not about Robbie,” but about keeping alive a 41-year tradition started by school community members who didn’t just want to take “a group of Malverne students upstate into the woods.” He said, “It was about taking a journey that allowed them the opportunity to learn more about themselves and the people around them.”
Robbie’s set included Top 40 hits such as Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” which he performed with the Herber Dancers. He covered Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” along with members of the Herber Chorus, and Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word,” which he sang twice on Idol. He capped off the night singing a duet of The Wanted’s “Glad You Came” with Malverne High School senior and All-Eastern vocalist Samantha Henry.
Rosen also performed several of his own songs, including “My Life,” which conveys the message that everyone has control over their lives and can break through any obstacles.
In his eyes, the Frost Valley field trip is important because “it’s the first time these kids are on their own … having to watch over themselves and make their own decisions,” he said. “It gives them a good sense of who they are.”
According the SVF’s Facebook page, the committee has raised $10,325 of its $30,000 goal and is researching ways to lower the trip’s costs.
“The entire evening exceeded our expectations, financially and on a community level,” SVF Committee member Gina Genti told Patch, adding that other fundraisers are in the works including a roller skating event and game night. Soon the committee's Web site will start accepting donations via PayPal too.
Seventh grader Hope Matthews, who went on the trip last year, was at the concert wearing her Frost Valley T-shirt.
“It’s just an amazing experience,” she said. “Everyone loves it. [If the sixth graders don’t get to go] they’re missing out.”
Magda Kubik, another seventh grader, said the trip taught her to conquer her fears. “There’s this three-wire bridge that you cross, and I’m terrified of heights,” she said. “I was really scared, but I did it.”
Plus, Kublik said, the trip brings students closer together, adding, “sharing a bathroom does that.”
“I loved it,” PTA Central Council President and Robbie Rosen fan Joyce Berry said of the concert. Berry has been supporting all the SVF fundraisers because she’s seen the positive impact the trip had on her own children, inspiring one of them to become a Boy Scout.
“I would do everything in my power to try to get these kids there,” she said. “They need this … They think it’s a trip, but it’s not, it’s a learning experience ... They do grow.”