Diamond BarHigh School

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Inland Valley Daily Bulletin Reports On Leos' Talent Show

'Children are never too young to learn they're not in this world by themselves'

By Imani Tate, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin Staff Writer

Music, dance and martial arts were mere means to a charitable end for teenagers representing Leo Clubs in Diamond Bar, Walnut, Fullerton, Huntington Beach and La Habra.

"I have no talent. I just came to support my peers and this cause," said Diamond Bar High School senior Jennifer Tran who despite her modest claim added her rhythmic movements to dancers opening Leo District 4-L4's springtime talent show.

Leo Club teens, representing the youthful service arm of Lions Clubs International, came together for the "Unity Among Diversity" benefit to raise money for Lions International's Haitian earthquake relief and the Orphanages of Thailand Inc.

The latter umbrella charity includes the Children's Shelter of Wat Bot established by Lions International members John and Hathain Doogan and the Pattaya Orphanage founded by Catholic Father Ray Brennan to serve blind, deaf and physically handicapped orphans.

Gurpreet Singh, a 2009 DBHS grad and Cal State Fullerton biochemistry major, returned to his alma mater to serve as an usher and, with Leo Lion costumed character Yolanda Gong, welcome guests from Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange counties.

Teenagers showed off their performing arts' skills and compassion for less fortunate children. They planned, organized and produced the show that began with Diamond Bar Leos skipping down double aisles, leaping onto their school's Little Theater stage and dancing to the Blackeyed Peas "I Gotta Feeling."

The Southern California teenagers' enthusiasm sparked similar emotions among supportive guests. The audience clapped, cheered and sang along with young performers. Adults voiced pride in the teens' willingness to pass on their blessings to children suffering from extreme poverty, hunger, natural disasters and exaggerated environmental factors. 

Kevin Phung, a father, and Arcadia High School senior Casey Young twisted, turned, leaped and soared in a traditional Chinese lion costume. Los Angeles Chinatown's SW Martial Arts and Lion Dance Troupe drummer Brandon Chan, a Diamond Bar senior, and cymbals players Katrina Chan and Nathan Phung accompanied the dancing gold-and-red costumed lion.

"We're here because we feel this is really meaningful and the right thing to do," Brandon said.

Troy High School student Jennifer Wang of Fullerton easily mastered a "Gnomen-Reign" piano solo and captured the first-place honors for her powerful performance. Diamond Bar students Ayesha Motiwalla, Emily Yu, Diana Wang and Kelly Kuit demonstrated dual talents as choreographers and dancers on a modern dance routine. La Habra Leo Club members chose ghoulish makeup and mimicry of Michael Jackson's moves for their "Thriller" zombie dance.

Sabrina Mamun sang and Seema Barua played piano on "Trolley Wood." Diamond Bar's Jorrel Sampana performed the original composition "Perfect Woman" while Kelley Ha of Huntington Beach's Marina High School showed her love of country music singing Taylor Swift's "Jump Then Fall."

Diamond Bar junior Gabriel Espiritu protested war with the song "Heartbreak Warfare." Troy's Daniel Chiou sang of love and joy in the guitar/vocal solo "Part of Your World." Schoolmate Kelsey Pundamiera's furious feet and dynamic movements created a blur as her body snapped and twirled in a martial arts demonstration.

Marina dancers Cephas Kim, Halle Rose Young, Jessica Vuong and Kalia Asato mixed dance styles for a hilarious routine cheered by proud relatives and others in the appreciative audience. Jasmine Chai of Diamond Bar made "Fallin' For You" a duet, singing along to artist Colbie Caillat's recorded voice.

Jia Ma, of Walnut High's Wushu Martial Arts Club, deftly somersaulted, completed midair splits and jabbed a spear-like stick for the talent show's fascinating finale.

Vivian Tsui of Troy High and Diana Mar of Diamond Bar High spoke quietly about the more recent tragedy in Haiti. Their comments about children left in cruel conditions, extreme water and food scarcities, one million newly homeless people sleeping in cars and makeshift shacks and a new epidemic of hepatitis and typhoid weren't as troubling as the video showing the aftermath of Haiti's catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake.

"They rely on each other for comfort and support," Diana tearfully said as the image of three little boys with hands linked and carrying a bucket of water flashed on the screen.

Mothers in the audience groped inside purses for tissues as they cried looking at horrific images of young children victimized by disaster.

Vivian noted desperate children of Thailand and Haiti are "the reasons we're gathered here today" and declared Leo teens were "active global citizens." Diana appealed for help and hope.

Leonard Gleason, president of the Huntington Beach Lions Club, applauded the teen organizers and performers for making their leadership skills work for people in crisis.

"Our communities are only as good as what we put into them," Gleason noted. "The more we and our children care and serve community, the better it will be."

Marina elders Kelly Asato and Miyako Tanaka of Huntington Beach, respectively mother and grandmother of Kalia Asato who walked in the 2009 Rose Parade as one of the sighted partners to blind drill team members, agreed with Gleason.

"When we talk about community, we're not talking about ours alone," Asato said. "We teach them everyone has something to offer and contribute."

Tanaka said adults should encourage children to choose right over wrong and "build relationships with like-minded people so they can do good in and outside of their own communities."

Lowanna Owens of Diamond Bar, a retired educational administrative assistant, said "children are never too young to learn they're not in this world by themselves. They're here to learn, to help and to grow because this builds their character and makes them more productive world citizens."