It could have been a tryout for American Idol, from the terrific talent on stage to the enthusiasm in the audience. Yet, it was for something more important; providing scholarships to DC public and charter school students to go to college. It was the third Annual DC College Access Program All Star Talent Competition and Gala led by co-chairs Donald Graham and Deborah Lehr.
The kids sang, danced and drummed their way across the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Stage as the audience clapped, hooted and voted on their favorites using dial remotes. The judges were internationally renowned opera soprano, Harolyn Blackwell, Olympic gold-medalists, Dominique Dawes, Broadway star, choreographer, and director Baayork Lee, and Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan, who knows a few things about competing.
Mr. Graham reminded the audience that it was a GOP led Congress that introduced and voted for this special program that helps keep DC students competitive and motivated by giving them scholarship money for college. Speaker John Boehner was the head of the Education committee that helped pass such a resolution and was awarded a special apple for his work. Congressman John Kline of Minnesota accepted in his honor and joked that the tears would be flowing if Speaker Boehner was there tonight. Ms. Lehr also presented philanthropic superstar, Catherine Reynolds with an award for her great efforts for DC kids and helping many Americans be able to go to college.
ABC7/WJLA’s Leon Harris served as Master of Ceremonies and kept the competition moving and recognized DC Cupcake sisters, Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis, for their hard work in the community and their generosity of donating 400 cupcakes to the DC CAP Gala.
It was a tough choice for the judges to pick a winner as all of the contestants were incredibly talented. The final results were: 3rd Place went to Sherman Wood ($4,000 scholarship), 2nd Place to Savannah Cranford ($6,000 scholarship) and 1st Place to Victoria Davis, a terrific singer, ($10,000 scholarship) and plans to pursue a degree in classical music. All of the winners attend the Duke Ellington School of the arts.
Famous faces were everywhere including Julius Genachowski, FCC Chairman, David and Katherine Bradley, John Rogers (Deborah Lehr’s husband,) Steve Elmendorf, Wayne and Lea Berman, Pat Butler, and DC CAP board member Mark Ein.
A dance party followed with a red carpet, a band, fake paparazzi, beautiful starlets and lots of every happy DC students and their families. Even a President Obama impersonator made an appearance.
Mr. Graham moved the crowd with his remark that DC-CAP is not just fulfilling the dreams of the very talented students on the stage but also the friends of those students. Marl Ein moved the crowd by pledging to give a $2,000 scholarship to each of the other seven finalists. Other notable guests were CFO of Discovery Channel, Brad Singer and wife, Ali, co-founders and CEOs of OPNET (a Bethesda based tech company), Marc Cohen and brother, Alain Cohen.
Check out the photos from the competition and after party below!