In 2004, a unique tradition began at Harrison High School.
Live from Graff is an event put on by staff and students to bring the Harrison community together through musical acts put on by talented students at Harrison.
Live from Graff is a constantly evolving show, changing each year along with the student body and their musical interests and talents.
Trends throughout the years have led to an unprecedented drought in auditions in this 2016-2017 school year.
Jill Mansilla, a Spanish teacher at Harrison, has spearheaded the operation at Live from Graff along with Matt Carlson, a Physics and an Integrated Chemistry and Physics teacher.
Mansilla takes video submissions each year from students and chooses the show’s lineup from the material given to her.
“I always take 65 to 70 minutes of music, and I had 39 submitted, and of that only 15 or 20 was usable,” says Mansilla.
Due to the lack of content, Mansilla had no choice but to cancel Live from Graff this school year, much to the dismay of the senior class.
Last year’s Live from Graff was a huge success, however it was mainly dominated by a class of seniors.
“We used to have 64 auditions,” says Mansilla. “To go from 64 like seven years ago to 10 this year is just nuts.”
Preston Seymour and Elijah Wood are two Harrison seniors who have participated in Live from Graff before, and were disappointed that they would not get the opportunity to perform in front of the student body this year. However, they are understanding.
“I participated last year, and it was really fun,” says Wood. “Performing in an actual live rock concert is probably a dream that every guitarist or vocalist has, but it's definitely one I will never forget.”
Live from Graff gives students opportunities that they may not have anywhere else, but that is not all it does.
“I think [Live from Graff] helps the students out with being confident in themselves,” says Seymour. “Everyone gets nervous before they perform but everyone always does their best and has a great time. I hope that the program will thrive and grow bigger.”
Seymour, along with staff and students at Harrison, is hopeful that Live from Graff will return next year, and for good reason.
“Maybe next year we’ll have tons of people to choose from, I don’t know,” said Mansilla. “I hope so because it’s a charity event.”
Live from Graff served as a charity event unlike any other at Harrison.
The proceeds from the show and the miscellaneous items sold, such as glow necklaces, go to Food Finders Food Bank and local animal shelters.
There is merchandise currently being sold and the proceeds from which will go to the charities associated with Live from Graff.
There are T-shirts being sold for $15, long sleeve shirts sold for $20, and hoodies for $30.
The shirts have a tye-dye coloration. On the front of the shirt is “Live from Graff,” and on the backside of the shirt is a guitar with enveloping text saying “2017. A Year Without Music.”
“I'm very fortunate that I was able to experience the concert last year instead of waiting this year to try it out,” said Wood. “I hope that in the future, interest in Live From Graff will increase again because I think that it gives younger musicians a chance to perform for their peers in a unique and interesting way that they wouldn't otherwise have. I think that it gives students a chance to not only show their talent to their peers, but to express themselves in a way that isn't always easily available.”