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American idols

By Staff
Young Americans returning to Russellville
Kim West
For the third time in nine years, The Young Americans will visit Russellville to conduct a three-day performing arts clinic and stage a joint performance with students from the Russellville City Schools system.
The Young Americans, which has 200 members ages 18 to 23 from over 37 states and seven countries, spreads a goodwill message through music and dance and promotes the continuing need for performing arts in schools.
Since 1992, the organization has sponsored a musical outreach tour that includes stops at an estimated 50 schools per year in the U.S. The Young Americans also visited Russellville in 2003 and 2006.
This year the group is sending a 50-member cast to conduct a clinic Feb. 19-21 for students in grades 3-12 in conjunction with the choral programs at RHS, Russellville Middle School and Russellville Elementary School.
"The greatest thing they do is raise awareness of how much talent is in this school system, and I've been saying that since 1987," said RHS Choral Director George Crummie, who will co-direct the show with choral directors Carrie Morgan and Lauren Stroud. "I'm still astonished at the amount of musical talent in this small, and having taught in other areas, I can make a good comparison with Russellville to other areas.
"This show allows us to showcase our students who might not be able to take a choral or instrumental class, and it shows that it's important to keep (the arts) here … we're always having to prove our case to the public because we are not as visual as sports – you are not going to see a choral concert every Friday night, so this helps us to be much more visible."
Russellville students will also have the opportunity to perform with The Young Americans at the clinic's grand finale performance Saturday, Feb. 21 at 7:3 p.m. at the RHS Auditorium. Tickets, which will be sold only at the door, are $8 for adults and $3 for students and children.
"It's a culmination of everything they have learned in the three-day clinic, from dance and vocal technique to acting technique and stage presence," Crummie said. "All of the students will get to perform Saturday night, and the Young Americans will perform afterwards with the show transitioning so that it will look like one performance.
"People will get to see our students perform and also see what the Young Americans do – it's a big inspiration to our students who want to perform musical performance."
Crummie said students can still register for the clinic, which costs $50 per student, since the deadline has been extended two more weeks.
"We set a deadline of (Jan. 16) to get this in, but we're going to extend it through Feb. 2," Crummie said. "(Young Americans) wants us to have about 300 students to participate in the clinic if we can, and I want to say we had 250 to 300 last time. We're hoping for that this time, and we're getting a pretty good response."
Michelle Hester, a guidance counselor at West Elementary and the local liaison for The Young Americans, said area churches and businesses are hosting meals for the group.
"We have two lunches left, and the suppers are going to be hosted by First Baptist Church, North Highlands Church of Christ, Calvary Baptist Church and First United Methodist Church," Hester said. "Citizens Bank is doing a lunch, and I have two more that I'm working on getting sponsored."
Hester said the entire cast will be staying with host families during their five-day stay in Russellville.
"I need some more families in the Russellville community to volunteer as homestay families," she said. "They are responsible for breakfast and transporting them to school and picking them back up, plus giving them a place to stay – I'm going to try and have all my homestay families in place by the end of January.
"We have a lot of repeat families that want to keep (The Young American) kids again because they bring very positive attitudes with them, and they make the homestay families feel like they're special."
For more information, contact Hester at 331-2023 or mhester@rcs.k12.al.us.
Young Americans returning to Russellville

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