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Nov 19, 2012 1:13 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Quogue Student Stars In Hurricane Sandy Relief CD

Nov 20, 2012 2:13 PM

When Quogue Elementary School music teacher Carolyn Doyle laid down a challenge to her students to sing solos or songs as part of a recording to raise money for the American Red Cross’s Hurricane Sandy relief fund, she said she was delighted by one particular student’s response.

In a classroom at the school last week, Rebecca Alston approached a microphone and belted out a song with a control one wouldn’t expect from a third-grader in a blue-and-pink jumper, her hair in neat braids. But perhaps more impressive than her performance, which was a shining display of talent, was that, at 8 years old, she composed the vocal part and the piano accompaniment entirely by herself.

“I was so blown away,” Ms. Doyle said, adding that Rebecca’s performance at the school’s morning meeting brought tears to the eyes of teachers who listened in.

Rebecca, who is the daughter of Quogue School Board member Anael Alston and Deon Retemeyer, has been playing the piano since she was 5 years old, and singing for as long as she can remember. She explained that she had started writing the song, titled “You’re Not Alone,” before Ms. Doyle told the students about the Hurricane Sandy relief project. Rebecca knew immediately that it was a perfect fit.

“I hope it makes them feel like there’s hope, and that their dreams will come true,” Rebecca said about her song.

With lines like, “I know that you’re feeling pain, but you know that we’re all the same,” and, “You need to know you’re not alone,” Rebecca said she hopes to inspire confidence in those who might have lost all of their possessions in last month’s superstorm.

“What’s really sad is the people [who] lost their homes, and if they lost their homes, they lost memories, too,” she said.

Ms. Doyle said she is collecting donations in exchange for a copy of a CD that includes Rebecca’s song, along with other songs sung by classes in each grade at the school, from pre-K to sixth, as well as a few solo numbers, a song performed by the chamber choir and a trio. The songs include “If I Had a Hammer,” “God Bless America,” “Fix You,” and “You’ve Got a Friend In Me.”

The students recorded a similar CD after the deadly earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, according to Ms. Doyle. All of the profits from the latest CD will be donated to the local chapter of the American Red Cross. Ms. Doyle, who is selling the CDs, explained that she is not seeking a specific amount. Rather, she is asking donors to be as generous as they can.

“Our community has been very generous, so we just wanted to do our part,” Ms. Doyle said, adding that the CD is also a nice keepsake for students and their families.

As for Rebecca, she said she hopes to keep singing and dancing, and is excited to choose an instrument to play in the school’s band program, which begins in the fourth grade.

“If it became a career, I would really like that,” she said.

Anyone interested in making a donation and receiving a copy of the CD can e-mail Ms. Doyle at cpearce@quogueschool.com or visit her website at www.teacherweb.com/NY/Quogue/Doyle/apt10.aspx.

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