High School Nation Makes its Way to Benicia High


After a long week full of anticipation, Benicia High School students were fortunate enough to get out of school early on a Friday to attend an at-school concert. Instead of taking a math test or listening to a lecture, students enjoyed a much-needed change of pace from school. Especially on the Friday before prom, an outdoor concert along with a variety of activities was a perfect way to end the week.

A staff crew member hits the “whoa” as per the photographer Mikayla Carter’s (11) direction. PC- BENICIA PAW

On Friday, April 5th, High School Nation (HSN), an organization that visits schools to expose high school students to different types of music and art, made its way to Benicia High. Although rumor went around that BHS won a raffle, Principal Kleinschmidt told the Paw that high school student and hollister model Taylor Casey (11) was the link between Hollister (HSN’s major sponsor) and Benicia High School.

Principal Mrs. Kleinschmidt talks with The Paw and Panther TV staff to clarify vague details about the mysterious concert festival. PC- BENICIA PAW

Although the event was in no doubt an enjoyable way to spend a day at school, the real purpose of it was to display the number of job opportunities there are in the music and art industry besides actually being on stage. By having students in band and leadership help set up the event, they were exposed to many ways to get involved in the music industry such as being a set up crew member, an event planner, or stage manager. Band student Mariano Elias (9) signed a Google Form provided by Band Director Mr. Martin, as there was only a limited amount of space given to the band students. Elias also looked forward to the reaction of his high school peers, after band and leadership mostly assisted with the set-up of the High School Nation concert. Students from leadership, dance, and band also had the opportunity to attend an hour-long forum with five members of High School Nation.

Students listen in closely to hear the successes and failures of the hardworking staff that made High School Nation possible. PC- BENICIA PAW


Breana Raquel gives a student her perspective on how to continue moving through, even when the acting/music career is very judgmental. PC-BENICIA PAW

Breana Raquel gives a student her perspective on how to continue moving through, even when the acting/music career is very judgmental.

DJ Quay, choreographer Lizle Grande, and tour manager Andrew DeGolyer. PC-BENICIA PAW

Select students from band, leadership, and dance had the chance to talk one-on-one and ask questions to people with experience in music, dance, musical theater, improv, comedy, film production, television, acting, and tour managing. The students heard a variety of stories from the five speakers and got advice on landing auditions, deciding if film school is worth it, how to not negatively compare yourself to others, and much more. Liz LeGrande, actress and professional dancer, told the students the reality of life as a woman in the art industry and the rejection that comes with it. She stated that “rejection has been a way to teach me how I’m really dealing with my self-worth” and explained how to discover your worth within rejection. After a personal and informative forum, the leadership and band students left inspired and with more insight on careers in the industry.

Liz Grande answers a student’s question about whether rejection defines her or not.

For example, Hollister coordinator Eric Frasier is responsible for delegating tasks to various staff and student assistants, (a possible occupation a student can take up when they’re older.) Frasier ensures that High School Nation lives by the name, by traveling to various cities and linking up with local assistants in the new areas, and pulling art and music out so people can experience art and music they wouldn’t otherwise have because of cut school funding. Frasier got into the industry since everyone of the crew are related to some component of art and music… “We all love the arts and so we work with brands like Hollister, Guitar Center, and Takis to relate to the youth.” Frasier realizes Benicia High students are part of the generation that creates and utilizes digital media to share experiences. High School Nation aims to “marry the two together: our passion and love for the arts and your guys’ youthfulness.”

Hollister coordinator Eric Frasier poses with band musician Joseph Perez (12.)

At about 1:00 p.m, BHS students flooded the parking lot for the exciting event that awaited them. There were about five booths each dedicated to a High School Nation sponsor, where students could get free Takis, Hollister merchandise, vegan jerky and Wienerschnitzel hats. The Hollister booth included a “hang out” area where students could relax on bean bags away from the heat, the Weinerschnitzel booth had a photo booth and ping pong, and the Truth booth had many interactive games. Along the length of the parking lot was a big wheel tricycle race for those up for the challenge.

Jose Torres (11) takes advantage of the big wheel tricycle track, before the school is let out.

The Guitar Center booth was a popular attraction with drums, guitars, keyboards, DJ mixers and synthesizers for students to use. Hollister Coordinator Eric Frasier also mentioned that High School Nation is more than glad to provide the aforementioned recording studio. CJ May, guitar teacher and guitar tech, said told the Paw that the booth was a place for students “that want to learn music. . . and don’t have that opportunity, that we give them that opportunity to hop on and play.” He stated that their main goal is that students “feel open to come in and play music” without being judged. Whether a student has never touched an instrument in their life or they’ve been playing for years, the Guitar Center booth was a place to jam in a non-judgemental environment.

Sadly, the headlining band, The Plain White T’s, was a no-show, leaving the starting band position available. To fill the time, students Reshma Vydyarakath (12), Gabriella Jones (10), Kirsten Lambinicio (12) were welcomed on stage to perform. Following their performance, DJ Quay began the High School Nation lineup.

The second performance after DJ Quay was Fairview, a band that began when the duo met in grade school. “We just started by covering songs and later began writing music which helped us realize that music was more than just a hobby,” they told the Paw. They stated that the vibes of the schools are “consistently different” and every performance varies in setting and the energy of the crowd. “We appreciate the audience more because they are standing in the rain,” they said in regards to the rainy whether the day of the event.

Fairview sang their heart out as a couple.

The youngest performer was 18-year-old Breana Raquel. When asked how it feels to perform for her peers, she stated that she cares about what we think the most. “You’re my target age,” she mentioned, “I feel connected and feel like we’re almost like friends because we’re almost close in age. It’s also nerve-wracking too though because high schoolers have very hard opinions so it goes both ways”. As such a young artist, she said that music is her life and it always has bene. “It’s so big that you don’t have to speak the same language, be from the same area, or be the same race to enjoy and connect with the music. . . I think that’s what’s so powerful. People don’t understand it— there’s something for everyone out there. Maybe you don’t listen to country but this other person does. Music is just so much more than what people think, it’s beyond us.” She wonderfully performed a sample of her first EP called “Beginner’s Love” which can be found on Apple Music or Spotify.

Breana Raquel gets interviewed by Benicia Paw.

One of the biggest hits of the concert was a band from Argentina called “Mya”.  The name is derived from their first letter of their first names “Maxi” and “Agus”, which they combined to make “Mya” or “M and A” in English. After telling the Paw that they love being able to perform for different high schools everyday, they admitted that this was their first interview in English.

Students reach out to hold Mya’s hands. PC-BENICIA PAW

The audience sings on. PC-BENICIA PAW

Mya sings a song of their own in Spanish. PC- BENICIA PAW

Sophomore Mekdes Clark said she enjoyed the event, and that she likes “discovering new artists” and that “this is a great way to find new artists to help them grow”.

Freshman Adrian Jacobs also said that he loved the chance to try out synthesizers and mixers. “It was a chance to do something that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do anywhere else” he told the Paw.

Senior Joseph Perez, however, felt that the event contrasted with BHS’s lack of funding for the art programs. “ I think it’s unfair that BHS is celebrating the arts yet behind the scenes are cutting the funding, especially considering how good the visual and performing arts programs are here at BHS”.

The event was an overall success with all 4,000 Benicia High School students coming together to celebrate the artists and work they’ve created and curated for the youth audience. To be part of something as big and amazing as this, visit highschoolnation.com to learn more about what it takes to be part of the touring crew or even touring artists.

BHS Leadership and High School Nation staff pose for the camera. PC-BENICIA PAW

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