BandieraRCDSBon Jovi guitarist and Jersey Shore music legend Bobby Bandiera (center) joined students Anthony Flora, Kyle Ward, Max Kyrillos, Glen Wise, James Ruggiero and Dillon Butler during the recent Rock Out for Sandy Ground Benefit Concert at Rumson Country Day School.

Press release from Rumson Country Day School

The afternoon of Sunday, April 27 was a warm and sunny spring day, but The Rumson Country Day School was also turning up the heat in the Blake Gymnasium, where 250 people assembled for a benefit rock concert. The student-driven benefit was the brainchild of RCDS eighth grader Max Kyrillos, who got the idea from the 12-12-12 relief concert in New York City. Together with a group of fellow RCDS classmates, the student volunteers planned the Students Rock Out for Sandy Ground Benefit Concert, organizing everything from concessions to crowd control, and raised more than $9,000.

Net proceeds will help the Sandy Ground Project to build 26 new playgrounds that are a living memorial to each victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Karen and Joe Burke from the Where Angels Play Foundation were at the event, as well as Mark Jones, Vice President of External Affairs for JCP&L, who presented a check for $1,500. Alumni parent, J. Robert Small, parent of Elizabeth Small ’12, generously offered a matching challenge grant of up to $1,000. Mr. Small started Helping Highlands Survivors, a charity organization that has worked closely with The Sandy Ground Project to raise funds for the Daniel Barden Playground in the Highlands.

Bobby Bandiera of Bon Jovi fame made a special appearance and gave the teen musicians the thrill of playing with a famous rock musician for a great cause. The noted guitarist was also part of another legendary New Jersey band Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. The concert also featured two local teen bands including Max’s band, The Stone Bullets, and Ardvark Smile, a popular local band from Middletown and the musical duo of RCDS teacher Tom Scott and RCDS security officer Tom Mancuso.

RCDSFront row (from left): Paul Thomas, Anderson Guadagno, Zahrah Siddiq, Brendan Greene, and Maggie Whittemore. Back row (from left): Shelby Ragin, Jesse Wallace, Elias Economou, Max Kyrillos, Cash Woldseth and Ford Zacks.

“It was so great to play classic rock tunes with Bobby Bandiera,” said Max. “He wanted to jam, and we were playing seven and eight minute renditions. It was awesome and something we will never forget.”

Songs from the set list included crowd pleasers “Mustang Sally”by Mack Rice, “Dear Mr. Fantasy” by Traffic, and “Like a Hurricane” by Neil Young. Lee Mrowicki, an original disc jockey at the Jersey Shore’s legendary Stone Pony, served as MC, assisted by RCDS eighth grader Shant Sahakian. Craig Cummings also donated his expertise by providing excellent sound for the event.

Community service is a core component of the educational philosophy, and RCDS teachers encourage students to embrace the opportunities that life presents and turn them into meaningful experiences. Jane Denny, RCDS History and World Language teacher and community service director for the school remarked, “This an excellent example of how young people can make a difference. Max’s passion for music, as well as his compassion, and vision for service to others have resulted in a deeply meaningful event that has made a big impact. I am so proud of Max and all of the student volunteers who have worked so hard on this project.”