Seven students competing for title of Monarch Idol
The seven Marysville High School students who will take the stage April 30 for the Monarch Idol competition will continue a school tradition.
Andrew Benjamin, Chelsea Matejko, Hunter McCallister, Nora Miller, Isaiah Page, Rebecca Phlipot and Kaylor Ramey are the finalists in a contest that originally had 23 contestants. The April 30 event will start at 7 p.m. at the high school.
High school English teacher Katie Kozak is also the staff adviser for The Monarch Vibe school magazine, which sponsors the Idol event.
"Any money that the event generates goes to support The Monarch Vibe school magazine, which is created by Marysville High School students," she said. "The money is used to pay for printing costs for the monthly magazine -- paper and ink, supplies such as cameras, scanners, batteries and, sometimes, workshops for the students to improve their skills."
Josh Carrasco, a video production specialist in Marysville, said the event has been going for several years, but this is the second year he and Kozak have coordinated it.
"We are excited that there is such a buzz around town for this year's finale," he said.
Kozak said the contestants get a lot out of the event.
"In addition to the awesome prizes donated by various community organizations, the contestants get practice performing for an audience, entertaining their peers and community, as well as receiving feedback from professionals to help hone their talent," she said.
"Originally, the plan was to create a top five for the finale, but the judges were so impressed with the talent this year that they decided on a top seven," Carrasco said.
In previous years, organizers heard audience members say they would like the event to be more interactive. That prompted a change in the way the winner is decided.
"Previously, the judges would decide the winner of Monarch Idol, but last year, we changed it to be a live audience vote via text message," Carrasco said. "We had great results and attendance with that element, so we are doing that again this year, thanks to Memorial Hospital of Union County, which is sponsoring the text-message voting."
He said he hopes Monarch Idol draws more attention from the community this year.
"Last year, we had over 100 attendees. I think with the extra promotion and excitement around this year's event, we will definitely see that number increase," he said.
Carrasco called Monarch Idol a great event for the entire family.
"We have some amazing young talent right here in our own backyard," he said. "I have been working with these finalists since early March when we had the preliminary round and I am still impressed every time I hear them perform.
"When Katie and I took over the event last year, I knew that Monarch Idol had the potential to be not only a great high school event, but a great event for the entire community," Carrasco said.
"My dream is to one day look down at the audience from the production booth and not see an empty seat in the whole auditorium. And that's not just because I love the event, but I love these kids and they deserve it."