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5:41 AM Wed, Dec. 19th

Kestrel students, grads perform to raise money for their school

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br>
Deanna Bunch, a senior at Kestrel High School, will be performing along with other current and past students at the Kestrel High School Benefit Music Extravaganza and Silent Art Auction Friday night. The event will be at the Prescott Resort Goldwater Ballroom from 6 to 11 p.m.

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br> Deanna Bunch, a senior at Kestrel High School, will be performing along with other current and past students at the Kestrel High School Benefit Music Extravaganza and Silent Art Auction Friday night. The event will be at the Prescott Resort Goldwater Ballroom from 6 to 11 p.m.

Kestrel High School senior Deanna Bunch is looking forward to singing and playing the ukulele with current students and graduates at the "Celebrate Kestrel" benefit from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday at the Prescott Resort.

"We'll be performing 'Whistle for the Choir' by The Fratellis. Then Nick Canuel, Brier Houseknecht and I will be singing 'Hallelujah' by Rufus Wainwright a capella," she said.

The benefit will feature a silent art auction, a raffle, and music by Kestrel students Bunch, Houseknecht and Brady Gossman; former students Canuel, Nicole Hale, Sonny Ryan, and Drew Hall; Ex Amore featuring Billy Fugate and Tim Carrier; as well as a performance by Rio Flamenco.

"This celebrates 12 years of education at Kestrel and will help fund the operation of the school, student programs, textbooks, transportation, and help pay for students musical instruments and art supplies," said Jeanette Carey, secretary with Kestrel High School.

Tickets to Friday night's event are $10 and can be picked up from Kestrel High School at 325 N. Washington St. in Prescott, by calling the school office at (928) 541-1090, or purchase online at kestrelhighschool.ticketbud.com/music.

Tony and Ana Cocilovo with Rio Flamenco said their son Byron was in the first class that went to Kestrel for all four years, and he graduated in 2004.

"If he went to a regular public school I don't think he'd have gone on for his Ph.D.," said Tony. "The feeling at Kestrel is like an extended family."

Byron made a presentation this week on optics at a conference in the Netherlands, Tony said.

"The school is good for kids who think outside the box, who are good at problem-solving and are creative," Ana said.

At Kestrel you learn by doing, said Bunch, who's been at Kestrel since her sophomore year.

"We really jump into projects, everything's hands-on, and you learn so much more than just reading from a textbook," she said.

Teachers and staff at Kestrel let students know they matter, said Canuel, who graduated in 2009.

"Teachers at Kestrel always pushed us to do what we were good at and embrace our talents," he said. "They made school like a home base."

Canuel said he will be playing guitar with Sonny Campbell as well as performing with Bunch and Houseknecht, who are "incredible musicians - I couldn't be more impressed."

"Kestrel was an incredible place to go to school. It was the first place I ever took a music class," said Carrier, who described Ex Amore's music as symphonic, operatic heavy metal with an orchestral vibe.

"Teenagers don't admit that they're looking for guidance," Canuel said. "Kestrel's a good place to get it."