Mary Jo Podgurski

Column Mary Jo Podgurski

Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski is the founder and director of the Washington Health System Teen Outreach. She responds to 68 questions from young people daily and has written 'Ask Mary Jo' since 2005.

Thoughts from WGT contestants

January 22, 2014

<<Visit our Washington's Got Talent page to see pics, videos, and more information on this year's contestants!>>

When I was a child, my mother remarked every birthday, “That year went fast!” and I couldn't relate. Time is indeed relative. Traditionally I dedicate the column before our annual fundraiser, Washington's Got Talent, to our young finalists. I'm growing into my mom; last year sped by swiftly. Our fifth talent show is Saturday, Feb. 1. I'm humbled and proud to once again share our finalists' words.

In 2014, our 14 young finalists will compete for three monetary prizes ($1,000 and $500 for first- and second-place winners and $500 for Fan Favorite). The first and second prizes are determined by our returning 2013 panel of judges (celebrity judge Adam Brock, Rep. Brandon Neuman, Four Townsmen singer John Marcischak and teacher/counselor Katrina Thomas). Fan Favorite is won through audience voting.

Nine countywide auditions brought us a unique roster of contestants. Our finalists hail from Beth-Center Middle and High School, California High School, Canon-McMillan High School, Chartiers-Houston Middle and High School, John F. Kennedy Catholic School, Lincoln Park School, Fort Cherry High School, McGuffey High School, Trinity Middle and High School and Washington Junior-Senior High School. One contestant is home-schooled.

This year we have an abundance of riches. Along with five single performers, three dyads (one singing/pianist duo, one dance duo and one rapper duo) will compete. Three young people will perform as a singer/guitarist trio. A second trio will sing. Finally, we are blessed with a quartet of dancers and two four-man bands. A total of 32 young people will perform.

In alphabetical order, our finalists are: Alexis Fuqua (eighth grade); Anthony Darby, Jr. (11th grade); Belle Linges – Angie Ross (11th grade), Ashley King (12th grade), Haley Zanardelli (seventh grade) and Maria Ross (12th grade); Ben Artuso (ninth grade) and Mackenzie Martin (11th grade); Bionic – Eli Dzurino, Marissa Durbin and Victoria Hall (11th grade); Four Way Stop – Andrew Rozsas (12th grade), Jacob Fulton (12th grade), Matthew Cimino (ninth grade) and Jimmie Phillips (12th grade); Hollow Lines – Jakob Nyswaner (10th grade), Jonathan Hoover (10th grade) and George Samarin (eighth grade); Jake “Staysicc” Swanson and Josh “JB Grizz” Bayer (12th grade); Julia Bodnar (ninth grade); Lauren Ragland (12th grade); Madison Mock and Talia Welsh (seventh grade); Nicole Klein (10th grade); Rockin Tacos – Nick Staso, Jeremy Shellhammer, Joshua Colletti and Marcus Cimino (seventh grade); and Sitting Pretty – Saffron Crowe (eighth grade), Siarra Demichele (eighth grade) and Jahlea Oakley (seventh grade).

Every year our contestants share a little of their hearts by responding to the following three questions: 1. Please tell us why you enjoy performing; 2. What does performing in Washington's Got Talent mean to you?; and 3. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I've divided their responses; eight appear below, and the remainder will be in next week's column.

Alexis Fuqua: 1. The feeling on stage and the attention set on me make me feel like I've gotten far and all my hard work through the years have paid off. 2. The show means a lot because I'm representing my school, and personally I think that motivates me more. 3. Performing and auditioning for competitions and working on improving my voice as well as my act.

Anthony Darby Jr.: 1. Because it's amazing and something I'm good at. 2. Everything, it means everything. 3. In either Georgia or Japan, doing music.

Belle Linges – Angie Ross: 1. Because I get to share my talent with the audience and I love entertaining people. The stage is basically home to me. 2. It's a great opportunity to share contortion with our community. It means a lot to me that I'm able to showcase it at Washington's Got Talent and I get to do it with my best friends. 3. Hopefully pursuing my dreams of being an actress. If not, I hope to be a dietician.

Belle Linges – Ashley King: 1. I enjoy performing because all eyes are on me. For those three minutes I get to try my best to make myself memorable. It's the best feeling when someone compliments you after for being so entertaining. 2. It means that even though my school doesn't support the program, I can show that I, myself, support it freely. 3. Anywhere onstage, performing is my favorite thing in the entire world!

Belle Linges – Haley Zanardelli: 1. I love performing because I love entertaining people and putting on a show. 2. It means that we get to show our talent to the Washington County and I can show what I love to do. 3. I can see myself still performing and entertaining and possible being an actress.

Belle Linges – Maria Ross: 1. I enjoy performing because I love showing people what I can do and I love how free I feel up on stage. 2. It gives us a chance to show what kind of talent there is in Washington County. 3. I see myself working for movies doing hair, makeup and special-effects makeup.

Ben Artuso: 1. Getting on stage and making something that other people will enjoy and will be able to take something away from is a really cool feeling. I don't think you can get that from doing anything else. 2. Performing in Washington's Got Talent means a lot to me. I always enjoyed seeing the show in past and thought it was an awesome way to bring talented people from all over the community together for a good cause. I'm honored to be a finalist and can't wait for the performance. 3. In 10 years I can honestly say that I have no idea where I'll be or what I'll be doing. I hope it's something involving music, regardless of what it is.

Mackenzie Martin: 1. I like performing because I like letting people know what I can do. I love that singing is something I'm actually good at and I do enjoy showing that particular talent off a bit. Plus there's a rush when you perform, like people are focused on you and it's a good feeling. 2. Performing in WGT means a lot to me because I'm a junior now and I've seen the show twice and always been super impressed with the contestants. People who get in shows like this motivate me to try to go forward with what I'm good at and use it for something; it's always inspiring to watch young people do awesome things, and I sort of hope to inspire someone to believe in themselves like other people have done for me. 3. In 10 years, I see myself hopefully doing whatever I love. Whether or not that includes singing, I guess I'll find out, but I just hope in 10 years I'm happy.



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