The Moorestown Parks and Recreation Department hosted Teen Cafe Night with a group of musical artists on August 22, an event that began seven years ago.
Recreation program manager Rich Corbin explained that Teen Cafe Night – also known as Cafe Live – started when a group of high school students came up with an idea.
“…These kids, a lot of them are singers in high school, (and) a lot of them aspire to sing after high school, maybe college,” said Corbin, who noted that students have helped run the program over the years.
“The first initial band seven years ago took it and created it,” he said, “And I was a lot more involved in the beginning, but after the first two shows, honestly, he has become what he is now.”
Moorestown High School senior Olivia Oeltjen, student organizer of Cafe Live, got involved by knowing Corbin’s daughter, who was looking for people to help organize the event. She was thrilled to see 15 bands – bands, solos and duos – – take the stage.
“…I (also) have an art gallery (there) because before I started doing Cafe Live, it was just singers, and it was much more low-key,” Oeltjen explained. . “I’m also involved in my school’s art program, and I wanted to involve as many students as possible, so I started showcasing art.”
Oeltjen enjoys bringing the community together with Cafe Live.
“I love showcasing the talents of all kinds of people,” she said. “I love being able to show people art and photography, in addition to the music, which is really the central part of it.”
“I really enjoy watching my friends play,” added the student. “…I’m so proud of everyone and I’m happy to see everyone happy and having a good time.”
Anna Rozelle and Sofia Gianneto – also seniors from Moorestown High – performed together.
“I’ve been going to Cafe Live performances since I was in middle school,” Rozelle recalled. “…It was something that I was always very interested in, and so when it finally came time for me to be in high school, I was really excited to be able to be part of the performances and see my friends directing it. .”
“It’s a really fun event,” Giannetto added. “A lot of people from the city come and it’s kind of surprising actually… It’s really fun to go out and listen to people sing.”
Corbin is inspired by student participation in Cafe Live, a program that continues to grow.
“…I have great confidence in their ability to put on a great event,” he said. “…The kids continue to amaze me with their work ethic and their ability to pull together whenever they want to.”
“…I know that every year when the senior graduate who led it leaves, they want it to continue,” Corbin added. “At the end of their run, they found a person or people who they thought would be good in the role…to take the reins and run with it.”
For more information on parks and recreation programs, visit https://www.moorestown.nj.us/482/Parks-Recreation.