On top of receiving a $10,000 check for the Music Department, NHS students were treated to an impromptu performance by singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles at a presentation Monday afternoon honoring Needham mom Debra Baron.
Though she hadn’t planned to perform, Bareilles decided last minute to sing part of her song “King of Anything” during the presentation, asking NHS students to clap along.
Baron, the mother of two Needham teens, was a winner in the “Nice Job, Mom: We Rock” contest sponsored by Stremicks Heritage Foods/8th Continent Soymilk. The contest asked moms across the United States to submit their tips for keeping their families happy and healthy. As a winner, Baron and a group of friends will enjoy a girls’ night including spa treatment and dinner. Plus, Baron was able to select a local school to receive a $10,000 donation for its music department.
Baron said she had nearly forgotten about the contest when she got a call telling her she had won.
“I entered the contest on a whim. It came up as a sidebar ad on my Facebook page—clearly they know I’m a cool mom," she said. "I felt spontaneously compelled to share a rock star parenting tip.”
So what was Baron’s winning tip?
“Remembering how I wanted to be treated as a kid, I removed the conversational filter with my own kids ASAP," she said. "My two awesome teens and all their friends know there is no topic that will ever be considered off-limits in our home."
Baron had no trouble picking Needham High School to receive the $10,000 prize, saying she felt the high school's music and arts programs tended to get overlooked for funding when compared to athletics.
“It bothers me a little bit to see how much money goes into improving the athletic department and fields while performing arts seems to see little change,” Baron said. “I was disappointed that this auditorium remains so small that our high school musical theater productions still have to be performed at across town.”
Baron said she and her family value art and music as an essential part of a formal education and that, growing up, music was important.
“I was very active in chorus all through my high school years on Long Island. I had the distinction of being the only girl in the tenor section—which I loved,” she said.
Baron talked of an exchange program her high school ran with a Virginia school, calling those trips “an important and memorable bonding experience.”
David Neves, Needham Public Schools Fine and Performing Arts Director, admitted that the $10,000 was “not quite enough” to expand the high school auditorium; however, he said the money would have an immediate impact. After talking with Baron, school officials have decided to use the prize money to help families cover the cost of semi-annual music trips, such as an upcoming trip to New York.
“We have more students and parents expressing a need even for the reduced trip that we’re doing this year, so we’re using the money to help those folks,” Neves said. “Without this wonderful donation, we have a good number of students who would not have been able to take part in our New York City trip in about a month.”
Though the $10,000 check was clearly appreciated by NHS students and staff, it was Bareilles’ appearance at the check presentation that really got the crowd excited, as they cheered loudly whenever her name was mentioned. As the celebrity face of 8th Continent Soymilk’s “Nice Job, Mom: We Rock” contest, the Grammy-nominated singer has been traveling around the country visiting winning schools.
“I’m learning a lot from being involved in this program as well, in terms of what it actually takes to make a difference,” Bareilles said. “It’s all about being passionate about your craft. For me, it’s music.”
The “Nice Job, Mom: We Rock” contest is a follow-up to 8th Continent’s “Draw Your Own Sun” campaign, which focused on arts education. Up next, the company, which is owned by Stremicks Heritage Foods, is running a “Lookin’ Good, Feelin’ Good” sweepstakes, which will provide a total of $75,000 in donations toward physical education programs in schools across the United States. Learn more at 8thcontinent.com.