After four seasons, the NJTV series “Driving Jersey” has changed its name to “Here’s the Story,” but its mission remains the same: To produce short documentaries about things going on all over the state. The first episode, which debuts tonight, focuses on an “NJ Rocks” concert featuring third graders at Mahala F. Atchison Elementary School in Tinton Falls singing works by seven New Jersey artists, including Frank Sinatra (“My Way”), Lesley Gore (“It’s My Party”), The Four Seasons (“Walk Like a Man”) and Whitney Houston (her version of “The Star Spangled Banner”).
“I was amazed that all of this talent came from like right here,” says one student.
Music teacher Nicole DePresca is in charge of pulling together the show, with students from seven different classes.
“In the beginning, a lot of them are very, very shy,” DePresca says. “They don’t utter a word in class, but then they volunteer to try for a singing part, and they sing like a bird. And it’s beautiful. And absolutely, that child gets a part in the concert. And usually, when we do our dress rehearsal for the school, the day before, some of the teachers are absolutely shocked. Some teachers have had that student in a previous year, and they just can’t get over it. And that’s very true with our special ed students, too. We have a lot of students who you would never ever suspect that they can sing or they can play an instrument like they do.”
The show goes very well, with the students donning fedoras for “My Way” and the lead singer on “The Star Spangled Banner” getting it just right, and even stretching her arms out at the end, the way Whitney Houston did at Super Bowl XXV.
“It was just one of those moments that I’m never gonna forget,” says DePresca. “I’m gonna be an old lady some day, telling all my senior friends about this moment.”
The episode, which was directed by Steve Rogers, debuts at 8 p.m. tonight, with future showings at 2 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. Sept. 4; 6:30 p.m. Sept. 5; 10:30 a.m. Sept. 6; 10:30 p.m. Sept. 7; and 4:30 a.m. Sept. 9.