Any initial nervousness Willow Mercado may have had about being on stage washed away as she began to sing Christina Perri's "Jar of Hearts."
Mercado, a third-grader at White Oak Elementary School, was one of about 80 students whose talents were spotlighted in the school's inaugural Fine Arts Festival talent show held Tuesday at the school's gym. Students showed off skills in music, gymnastics and dance, as well as interests in karate and comedy.
After she finished her song to enthusiastic applause, Mercado described the day's earlier dress rehearsal for the student body as rough.
"I was shaking the first time I practiced," she said. "I was shaking on the stage."
She said the later performance, however, was much better.
"It was fun," she said. "It was fun and scary."
Her mother, Krista Mercado, said she enjoyed the talent show — seeing her daughter and the other children perform.
"I never would have been brave enough to be on stage," she said, thinking of her own childhood years.
After Willow's performance, the family wandered the halls of the school that were transformed into an art exhibit, showing off students' drawings, paintings and other pieces of artwork.
White Oak principal Chris Maier said the festival was set up as a way to show the results of reinstating fine arts curriculum in the school.
"It's kind of to show the art program is strong," he said.
Maier said he was blown away by the talent he saw on stage.
"You see these kids down the hallways and don't expect these talents," he said. "They've all worked very hard and you can tell."
He added the support from several parties made the evening possible, from teachers to parents, and that the applause and cheers from the audience for each student was good to hear.
"The ability to do what they do is amazing," he said. "I'm thrilled. I'm happy for the kids and their families."
After her performance, third-grader Breanna Posego could be found with her mother, Jenny Posego, huddled around a camcorder to watch video of Breanna's gymnastics routine, which was set to Katy Perry's song "Firework."
Jenny said she was impressed with the students who got up on stage.
"It went really good — it was cute," Jenny said of the show. "She did a good job."
Breanna, a gymnast of about two years, said doing her routine in front of the crowd didn't phase her.
"I was just ready to go," she said.
Her mother said she liked watching the children show off their talents.
"It's nice to see them be brave enough to go up on stage and do what they do best," she said.