Teen talent competition benefits scholarship foundation

Here’s why so many folks were heading up Rocky Butte to see a great show, recently – and supporting a great cause at the same time …

The sanctuary of City Bible Church becomes a professional performance stage, as the 2nd annual  “Z-Man Scholarship Foundation Talent Within” competition gets underway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Families and friends of talented students attending 12 high schools gathered in the main auditorium of City Bible Church on the evening of April 25 to see the second annual “Z-Man Scholarship Foundation Talent Within” competition.

The Z-Man Scholarship Foundation is named after Portland Police Bureau Officer Mark Zylawy, who was killed off-duty on January 27, 2008, recalled the nonprofit organization’s executive director, Jenelle Clinton.

Naomi Fredgant from Wilson High School presents a monologue.

“After his death, friends and fellow officers created the Z-Man Scholarship Foundation to offer scholarships to deserving students who have a commitment to community involvement,” Clinton told East Portland News.

“Last year we came up with the ‘Talent Within’ competition,” explained Clinton. “Each of the participating schools has a talent show. The winners of the school shows come to perform at this competition, and are judged by a panel including Portland Police Chief Mike Reese and renowned composer, producer and pianist Michael Allen Harrison.”

Competition judge Michael Allen Harrison says he’s happy to help with community events such as the “Talent Within” competition.

Offering to be more than a “celebrity judge” during the show, Harrison also came in for the dress rehearsal, and gave the student performers presentation and staging tips to help them sharpen their performances.

Asked why he took time from his busy schedule to help out, Harrison said, “People from the foundation just called me up and asked me if I’d help out.

“It’s important to me to be involved with our community; that’s why I do all of this stuff,” Harrison said. “For me, it’s not either/or, it’s ‘all of the above’! It’s just what I do. I love it, I have fun, and I love being with these talented young people.”

Singing like a seasoned professional is David Douglas High School senior Samantha Westmoreland.

Having been encouraged to try out by choir teacher, Christopher Silva, and also her student council teacher, David Douglas High School Senior Samantha Westmoreland said she was happy and excited to be in the competition.

“It’s such a great opportunity,” Westmoreland enthused. “I’m so glad I’m able to be part of something like this.  I’ve really been looking forward to this show; it was really fun.”

Although she didn’t win the competition, Westmoreland had praise for the other performers on the show. “Everyone here is super talented! Whoever gets it deserves it.”

At the end of the program and when the judges’ votes were tallied, everyone congratulated this year’s winner, Javon Carter of Grant High School.

In this program, it seems that all who participated, watched, as well as those who will benefit from a Z-Man Scholarship, all come out winners.

More information about the Z-Man Scholarship Foundation, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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