Sheri Samson
Alyjah Dotson, Madeline Bennett and Katie McCune share a moment on stage at the Young Americans Performing Arts Summer Workshop in Corona, Calif.

The theme of the week-long workshop was entitled “Take the Stage” which is exactly what eight local teenagers did. At the Young Americans Performing Arts Summer Workshop in Corona, Calif., these teens applied the depth of dedication and hard work it takes to pull off a complete, professional performance in just four days. In this short amount of time they not only learned their songs, they memorized choreography, dance steps, staging and mic work.

One teen, Sean McPeake, a recent graduate of Mineral County High School, was assigned to learn lighting, sound and the back stage efforts, to make performances look and sound professional. McPeake specifically attended to learn these components.

Alyjah Dotson and Caitlyn Rogers were in their third “YA” workshop experience, bringing along their own band instruments. They warned the newcomers to hydrate and get lots of rest, due to the high endurance levels they would need. Ashley Rogers was attending her second trip to the program, admitting that the effort was more intense than she had remembered, but it was worth every minute as she loved to sing.

These performing arts students were committed to make this workshop happen this summer. They earned their way with fundraising efforts and sought out local donations, which included assistance from the Union 76 Food Mart Station, Dr. Bruce Dow and the Mineral County Booster Club. What these students didn’t realize until the day of departure was they all received free YA scholarships, which were given to them by the California-based Irvine Company, amounting to a $1,780 donation. This paid for their registrations and completed a free trip for all of them.

With two chaperones driving two separate vehicles eight hours south, these participants were treated to a home stay within the Corona area.

The YA’s non-profit educationally-based organization welcomed over 160 kids to this workshop at their nationally recognized college and headquarters. Participants ranged in ages from first through twelfth grades, coming from all areas, backgrounds, cultures and interests. What united them together was the power of music, combined as enthusiastic performers. High-energy classes of vocal training and multiple styles of dance were introduced. Participants learned the techniques of performing with style, excitement and teamwork. Students celebrated each other’s accomplishments, solos and individual goals as new friendships were formed.

As a special thank-you to the Irvine Company, who owns Fashion Island in Newport Beach and other large shopping locations, these local teen’s were photographed with one word written on a large card which described what their week-long workshop had given them. Madeline Bennett said “Strength”.

Kati McCune shared “Courage” while also sharing, “I gained a lot of self confidence. Before the workshop I never thought I would be able to stand in front of a crowd and sing by myself like I did there, but now I know that I am capable of so much.”

Joseph Bandoni, once a nervous performer at the local talent show, was chosen for a lead part, singing and dancing with a host of young kids in a performance taken from Charlie Brown called “Blanket”. His word was “Inspiration”. In his own words Bandoni admitted, “It changed what I wanted to become – I had no idea that I would find something like the Young Americans. I can take my love for music past high school and make it a part of my everyday life. That is absolutely beyond exciting to me.”

Emmalee Going, left Hawthorne nervous about the experience and admittedly shy, but her word was “Confident”. In Going’s own words she said, “I will remember my change of heart for music and performing arts as a whole. It is a hard lifestyle and they work with it so well. I liked having one last “hoorah” in two performances with the Young Americans, since I truly bonded with them over the week.”

Two Mineral County, in-coming seniors auditioned for a place in the Young American’s college while there. Alyjah Dotson and Joseph Bandoni have aspirations to join after high school.

For more information visit www.youngamericans.org or YALIVE.com.