Local News

January 11, 2014

‘You are in the Showcase’

Dressed in nearly matching velour dresses and black boots, best friends Callie Tuck and Gracie Catlett grabbed the micophones and began singing the words to Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart.”

The 8-year-old second-graders from Westside Elementary School huddled side by side in front of the judges screening auditions for the Whitfield Education Foundation’s annual Showcase of the Stars fundraiser coming up in February and together performed the country music tune.

Callie began swaying from side to side to the rhythm of the music. Gracie, a little more shy, ran and hugged dad Jason as soon as the judges finished giving them tips and suggestions.

“Girls,” said judge Merijean Weeks, “you are in the Showcase.”

The duo were among dozens of children from Whitfield County Schools and neighboring school districts to come out to Saturday’s auditions for the Feb. 1 event. Foundation Executive Director Mary Ellen Kinsey said the auditions — judged by school system employees Weeks and Chris Hamilton — were actually more of a screening to make sure any performances will be family-appropriate and that the performers have enough talent or enthusiasm to be able to get through the show.

Showcase is an annual event open to school-age children, including those who are home schooled, attend private schools or are enrolled in other school districts. Students are divided into several age categories, and audience members vote for winners.

Kinsey said she emphasizes to everyone that Showcase winners aren’t always the most talented, just those who get the most votes. As part of the fundraiser, anyone who watches the show must pay $7 to get in, so participants are encouraged to bring lots of family members and friends. The proceeds go to fund Innovative Teaching Grants — small amounts of money given to select Whitfield County Schools teachers each year to pay for special class projects and learning experiences.

The Showcase includes performances from a range of genres. Callie’s older sister, Ainsley, a fourth-grader at Westside Elementary, plans to perform New Zealand artist Lorde’s “Royals.” Cedar Ridge Elementary student Connor Priest, 11, plans to sing and play his guitar in a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” The list goes on.

This year will mark the 11th Showcase of the Stars. Kinsey said several school choruses are expected to perform during breaks at the show.

To purchase tickets for the Showcase, call (706) 217-6756 for advance tickets, or buy them at the door one hour before the show on Feb. 1 at Crosspointe Christian Centre.

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