For 50 years, the Kiwanis Club of Washington C.H. has provided an opportunity and venue for the youth of Fayette County to showcase their various talents and abilities through the annual Teen Talent Awards.
Always an exciting and highly-anticipated event, this year’s edition of the Teen Talent Awards will be even more of a special occasion due to the 50th anniversary. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Historic Washington Middle School auditorium.
In addition to the vast array of talent exhibited by this year’s participants, the Kiwanis Club has also invited several past participants and/or winners who have the opportunity to perform at the show, according to Wanda Coil, Kiwanis president. “This will include three-generation participants who will return for this special event,” said Coil.
Several special performances will also be featured, including a memorial tribute to Danny Lowe, who provided the sound engineering and lighting for the Teen Talent Awards for many years. Lowe, of Washington C.H., passed away Sept. 18 following a five-month battle with cancer.
A memorial tribute for Josh White, a Miami Trace student who passed away last year and a participant in past Teen Talent shows, is also scheduled.
Bob Cotner, who was in charge of the talent show for many years, and his wife, Donna, will also be recognized for their many contributions to the event.
“Fifty years ago, the Kiwanis Club started this as a community service project as a way of getting kids in the community involved and showcasing their many talents,” said Gary Brock, Kiwanis vice president. “It has always been an amazing, diverse level of talent. The very first winner was actually a trampoline act — Mike Gaylord in 1968. From there, the talent has included singers, dancers, classical pianists, violinists, dramatic readings, brass ensembles, rock bands, string quartets, saxophone players, Stomp acts, acrobatics, ballet, opera, and just about every kind of talent you could imagine.”
The Teen Talent Awards began at the request of Bob Lee, president of the Kiwanis Club at the time. He asked that a program be devised to give credit and recognition to students in the local school districts who wouldn’t have had any other opportunities to present their talents publicly.
In excess of 1,600 students have been auditioned, rehearsed, staged and coached before the night of the awards. Over $100,000 in cash prizes and scholarships have been presented to the students since the program’s inception.
This year, 21 acts will showcase their talent at Friday’s show, including: Grant Matthew DeBruin, vocal; Jocelyn Trimmer, vocal; Tayler Sisson, vocal; Khenadi “Kennedy” Grubb, vocal; Kieara Hites, vocal; Ashton Carr and Dennis Manns, vocal and guitar; Ethan Marting, dance; Ashley Donato and Mackenzie Grafstrom, dance; Mensah Viassy, beat-boxing; Maria Pickerill, vocal and piano; Ashton Carr, vocal; Abigail Sever, vocal; Brooklynn Stanley, vocal; Bianca Rogers-Wright, vocal; Lexi Longberry, vocal; Mackenzie Grafstrom, vocal; Grant Matthew DeBruin, piano; Maria Pickerill and Anna Grace Wilson, vocal and piano; Jocelyn Trimmer and Brooklynn Stanley, vocal w/ CD; Anna Grace Wilson, vocal; and Abbey Wolf, vocal.
“On average we have around 20 acts each year, so this year is right there on average,” said Coil. “It is open to any high school student in the Miami Trace, Washington Court House, and Fayette Christian school district. There is an application the students have to fill out, the principals have to sign off on them and then there are auditions.”
A group of five judges evaluate each participant in several categories on a 1-10 point scale. The participants who emerge with the most points are placed first, second, third and fourth. Following the show, the local Kiwanis Club presents the first place winner with a $500 prize, second place $400, third place $300 and fourth place $200.
A “fan favorite” that is judged by an applause meter is also presented with a plaque.
Radio personality and WCHC-TV Channel 3 producer, Harry Wright, will serve as the master of ceremonies during the event. Vocal music directors Jared Joseph from Washington High School and Holly Stanley from Miami Trace High School will be heavily involved in the production. The Miami Trace Key Club will also help in the show.
General admission is $6 at the door and doors will open at 6:30 p.m.
“Over the years, we’ve really had a nice mix of students from each district who participate each year,” said Brock. “We usually pack the auditorium and we expect a great crowd again this year. The Kiwanis Club very much appreciates the efforts of the students, the parents and the school districts to make this talent show such a success over the past 50 years.”
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica