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EF elementary principal heads to Byham as holiday show vocalist

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Friday, Nov. 25, 2011

For students at Greenock and Mt. Vernon elementary schools in Elizabeth Forward School District, it's not uncommon to see principal Jennifer Meliton take center stage to emcee various assemblies and class activities.

Meliton's cheerful personality is ideal when it comes to holding the attention of young people. Her soprano singing voice has gotten her on the bill at several veterans-oriented celebrations in the community as well.

But Sunday she'll be moving on up to a larger stage when she performs at the Byham Theater with vocalist Mark Milovats at his annual holiday show, "A Classic Christmas." Showtime is 7 p.m. and proceeds from the performance benefit Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Tickets are available online at or by calling 412-456-6666.

"I've sung for a long time but I've really just started to get back into it," said Meliton, who was active with performing arts while she attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the early 1990s.

She still sings a lot at her church, Zion Lutheran in Brentwood, and said being a performer has always remained one of her dreams.

That dream became a little more of a reality when she had a chance meeting with Milovats' wife Carol at a perfume shop. The two women struck up a conversation and Meliton consequently learned that her new acquaintance's husband had similar interests to her own " music and education.

Milovats, in addition to being a singer in the style of Andy Williams, Wayne Newton and Barry Manilow " he has in fact opened for Manilow " is a third-grade teacher in the Penn-Trafford School District.

Meliton expressed interest in having some students from her district join Milovats' Elfin Singing Ensemble, a choir group comprised of approximately 120 students from 22 regional school districts, and was also interested in work he'd done with an early intervention reading program.

Milovats, who's been producing his holiday show for 14 years, said he created the student holiday choir as a means of giving young people a chance to perform on stage.

"It gives them an opportunity they might not otherwise have," said Milovats, who prior to becoming an educator dabbled with a career in business.

The show Sunday will include 10 Elizabeth Forward students in the student choir. It also will feature approximately 50 dancers from the North Allegheny high school cheerleading squad and Duquesne University Dance Team.

"I really believe you have to be a showman and entertainer," said Milovats, who toured the former Yugoslavia when he was young, performing with the Tamburitzans.

He was burned as a child and, as a result of his treatment, became a supporter of Children's Hospital. Milovats' show received backing from legendary golfer Arnold Palmer its first year at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg. This year, Shorkey Auto Group is sponsoring the show.

Milovats and Meliton wouldn't say what numbers they will perform together, though the showman did say, "Our voices match very well and her personality is perfect, too."

Meliton said she hopes students at her schools can take a positive message from seeing her on stage.

"If you have a dream you can always pursue it," Meliton said.



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