Western New York Heritage Press is hosting a student essay contest for students in grades four and up. The essays should focus on some aspect of the art, architecture or history of Western New York. Essays will be judged on content, style and originality. The winning essays will be published in Western New York Heritage magazine. For rules and an entry form, visit www.wnyheritagepress.org or www.ecasb.org or call 893-4011. Deadline is Jan. 31.
The Vivace and Bravo choirs of Bel Canto and the Royal Serenaders will present a combined performance at 4 p.m. Sunday in First Presbyterian Church, 1 Symphony Circle. Cost is $15. For more information, call 759-6428.
The New York State School Music Association’s Junior High Area All-State Music Festival will be held Friday and Saturday at Akron Central Schools, 47 Bloomingdale Ave., Akron. The festival, which features 450 students in grades seven through nine from Western New York who were selected to participate, will conclude with two concerts. The Jazz Ensemble, String Ensemble and SATB Chorus will perform at 1 p.m. Saturday in the school’s Edward Allen Auditorium, and the Concert Band and Full Orchestra will perform at 4. Tickets are $5. For more information, call 542-5030, Ext. 5102, or visit www.akronschools.org.
Opera Week continues with a performance of “Journey on the Silk Road – A Musical Sojourn from Tunisia to Tokyo.” Danielle DiStefano, soprano; Sandy Ackerman, piano; and the Harmonia Chamber Singers will perform at 3 p.m. Saturday in Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, 4369 S. Buffalo St., Orchard Park. For more information, call 885-2486 or visit www.ehjfund.org.
The Park School of Buffalo Parents Association will kick off its guest speaker series at 6 p.m. Friday in the school’s dining hall, 4625 Harlem Road, Snyder. Andrea Berardi, a 2004 graduate of Park School, will present “Paving the Way to a Career in the Sciences,” a reflection on the school’s influence on her career in the biological sciences and plant genetics. Reservations are encouraged at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In last week’s NeXt cover story, correspondent Hannah Gordon, a senior at Immaculata Academy, wrote about how she and her mom make her Halloween costumes each year. Traditionally, Hannah keeps her costume idea a secret until Halloween, so she was unable to reveal what costume she was working on this year. Hannah’s attention to detail once again proved to be no joke. Here she is dressed as the Joker.
• Nichols School will perform “Peter Pan” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday at the school, 1250 Amherst St. Tickets are $5. Cameron Hejna, a junior at Nichols, is writing music for the show. Pictured above are Joel Almand and Emily Collins.
• Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School and Mount Mercy Academy will present “Beauty and the Beast” at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday at Bishop Timon-St. Jude, 601 McKinley Parkway. Tickets are $7-$9. Pictured above are, from left, Tim Keane, Kim Keysa and Scott Driscoll.
• Williamsville South High School will present “The Crucible” at 7 p.m. today through Saturday in the school auditorium, 5950 Main St., Williamsville. Tickets are $8.