Judges named for 54th Annual Piedmont Bird Calling Contest

In preparation for the return of the Piedmont Bird Calling Contest, Piedmont High School has named the judges who will be presiding over the popular event on Thursday, March 30.

Filling the roles of “Celebrity Judges” will be Rosemary Orozco and Michael Poryes. This year’s “Bird Calling Expert Judge” is Joe Fendel.

Orozco currently works for KTVU-FOX in Oakland as a meteorologist. She taught at San Francisco State University and has worked as a meteorologist, journalist, and news anchor for several stations. Orozco also worked as a model and has her own fashion line produced in San Francisco, the Rosemary Orozco Collection.

A member of Piedmont High School’s Class of 1973, Poryes is a three-time Emmy nominee who has created and co-created five television series, including “Hannah Montana” and “That’s So Raven.” He was also an original member of the creative team that developed and launched “Saved by the Bell.” Before his venture into kids and family programming, Poryes enjoyed a career writing and producing sitcoms that included “Cybil,” “Veronica’s Closet,” and “The Facts of Life,” and was a Humanitas Award nominee for his work on “Roseanne.”

Fendel was a PHS student and four-time bird caller contestant from 1987-91. He performed his call of the Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” as a junior in 1990, and then won the contest his senior year with his rendition of the Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis).

The contest’s teacher judges are PHS English teacher Jamieson Mockel and Assistant Principal Irma Muñoz. Mockel comes from a long line of bird callers. Several members of his family, including his brother, were bird callers. His grandmother worked with the contest’s founder, Leonard Waxdeck, on the show in its early years. Muñoz is a former committee member for the Bird Calling Contest and still helps to mentor the newer committee members. She is a Zumba instructor and sometimes leads the faculty in some dance moves. She graced the last contest with a tango in imitation of a Grebe.

Created in 1963, the Piedmont Bird Calling Contest grew into an annual event that over the decades has attracted attention both locally and nationally as winners have appeared on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” and “Late Night with David Letterman.” Recently a former PHS student and participant demonstrated her skills on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” Though the show has changed somewhat over the years, its spirit and traditions were carried on by the many who share in a spirit of innovation.

After a three-year absence, the famed Piedmont Bird Calling Contest is set to return to the campus of Piedmont High School on Thursday, March 30, at 7:00 p.m., in the new Alan Harvey Theater. Under the theme of “Maskarade,” guests are encouraged to show their creativity and personality through their masks — bird-themed or not.

Read more about the history of the contest HERE.

Tickets for the Piedmont Bird Calling Show are on sale at ShowTix4U HERE. General admission tickets are available for $25 and general admission student tickets are available for $15. Plan to buy tickets in advance because the one-time performance usually sells out.

The Alan Harvey Theater is located at 800 Magnolia Ave., on the campus of Piedmont High School. Please contact Kathryn Levenson, teacher-librarian for Piedmont High School, at klevenson@piedmont.k12.ca.us or 510-594-2781.

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