Dozens of students gathered at Calhoun High School in Merrick on Tuesday night to attend a viewing party for their classmate and American Idol hopeful, Robbie Rosen.
Students, parents and teachers whipped into a frenzy just after 9 p.m. when the host of American Idol, Ryan Seacrest, announced that “The pride of Long Island,” was next to perform.
Rosen, 17, received a standing ovation from his supporters at the high school after his performance of Angel by Sarah McLachlan, and some were already texting their votes before the performance was over.
“That was a beautiful thing,” judge Steven Tyler told Rosen to the crowd’s delight. “You’re on of those special people that when you sing, you feel every single word,” judge Jennifer Lopez said.
But there were boos as Randy Jackson criticized Rosen for some of his “pitchey” notes, and said he didn’t feel like Rosen was “quite comfortable” during his performance.
“I thought he nailed it,” Sanford Sardo, 41, the Director of Choral Activities at Calhoun. “I thought that Jennifer Lopez was right on when she said that he sang with such emotion, which is one of his strong points…He sings with such an incredible amount of emotion, I think that he nailed it.”
Just prior to Rosen’s performance, classmates and school officials said there’s more to the aspiring singer than his vocals.
“Robbie is the most amazing kid you’d ever want to meet,” Assistant Principal Nicole Hollings said of the junior. “He’s just warm and friendly and engaging, and students just gravitate to him.”
Calhoun Principal David Seinfeld said Rosen has been humble through the process, and that he’s not only proud of Rosen because he represents Merrick, but also because he’s just like any other teen contestant.
“Robbie is a great young person,” Seinfeld said. “He’s a student, an athlete and a musician.”
“He’s not just a vocalist he’s an instrumentalist…All that said, he’s as humble as any student in the building,” he said. “He goes about his business and doesn’t make a big deal about who he is and what he’s doing.”
Ever since the first time Natalie Simonetti met Rosen, she said he would always talk about being a contestant on the show. So when she found out that her friend was going to Hollywood to audition, she wasn’t surprised.
Although the school supports him, there’s a little part of them that misses their friend.
“He’s just one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet,” said Simonetti, a 17-year-old Calhoun senior. “He always worries about other people before himself, he cares about everyone else. He’s like one of those people that when your around he makes you happy.”
The top eight men will advance to the next round pending the results on Thursday night.
“Robbie is going to make it,” said Allison Byrne a Calhoun freshman. “And we’re really proud of him.”