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Celebrating the Stars of Tomorrow: The 2024 West Michigan Student Showcase

Photo credit: Melissa King

The West Michigan Student Showcase 2024, a hallmark event celebrating the talents and achievements of high school students across Mason, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, and Ottawa counties, culminated in an extraordinary celebration of youth excellence. As another year’s festivities draw to a close, we extend our heartfelt congratulations to all the participants who made this year’s showcase not just a competition, but a vivid tapestry of the diverse talents our young people possess.

Digital Media Arts Takes the Spotlight

In the realm of Digital Media Arts, innovative projects pushed the boundaries of creativity and technical skill. First place was clinched by Mona Shores High School’s Jacob Schnotala with his outstanding entry “Metalbrain,” a testament to the evolving digital landscape. Isaac Rasmussen followed with “POGO,” securing second place, and Grant High School’s Bobbie Johnson took third with “SQUATCH,” each showcasing their unique digital storytelling capabilities.

Literary Arts: A World of Words

The Literary Arts category was a showcase of evocative storytelling and poetic finesse. Clara Squio De Cezaro from Grand Haven High School earned the top spot with her compelling narrative, “Icarus.” Spring Lake High School’s Kyla Koert, with “Statues,” and Reeths-Puffer High School’s Elana Weiden, author of “Cocoa and Chronicles,” rounded out the top three, demonstrating the power of the written word to explore complex themes and emotions.

The Performing Arts: A Stage for Expression

The Performing Arts category of the 2024 West Michigan Student Showcase was a breathtaking journey through the emotional landscapes and creative expressions of young artists. This year, the talents ranged from soul-stirring solo performances to harmonious group presentations, each telling its own unique story.

Solo/Duo Category: The Power of Individual and Collaborative Artistry
In the solo/duo category, Ella Mallon from North Muskegon High School stole the spotlight with a first-place win for her solo dramatic performance of an original poem. Her ability to convey deep emotions and connect with the audience through the power of words was truly mesmerizing.

Following closely, a homeschool standout, Mamie Balcom, delivered a stunning solo vocal performance of “Les Filles de Cadix (The Maids of Cadiz)” by Leo Delibes, accompanied by Pamela Balcom on piano. This second-place performance was not only a display of vocal excellence but also a testament to the timeless beauty of classical music.

The duo from Montague High School, Delaney Schultz and Ella King, secured third place with their innovative duet performance. Their mash-up of “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals and “Amazing Grace” by John Newton showcased not only their vocal and instrumental talents but also their creative ingenuity, blending two distinct songs into a harmonious and moving performance.

Group Category: The Ensemble Effect
Leading the group category was Reeths-Puffer High School’s SMH Band (Faith Andree, Jayden Castillo, Aidan Little, Mason Hacker, Kiron Koenig, Levi Kolmus, Aidan Mrotz, Spencer Lastch, Blake Miller, Brianna Mulling, Taylor Poole, Kamryn Ryke, Carter Wagbo, and Victor Williams) with their first-place instrumental rendition of “Playing With Fire” by Christopher Artau. The ensemble, featuring a diverse group of musicians, highlighted the dynamic range and emotional depth music can offer, captivating the audience with their coordinated performance.

Mona Shores High School’s group, Six Ate (Abby Buikema, Logan Clausen, Kami Cree, Lila Torresen, Ava Williams, and Elle Williams), earned second place with their group performance of “Heart of Glass” by Deborah Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie. This performance was a lively and engaging reinterpretation of a classic hit, showcasing the group’s cohesive sound and vibrant energy.

North Muskegon High School’s group, Wavelength (Maya Corbin, Izze Dejonge, and Braydyn Santos), took third place with their group instrumental performance of “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong UNITED. The trio’s rendition was both soothing and uplifting, demonstrating their musical harmony and the powerful emotional resonance of the song.

Each performance in the Performing Arts category highlighted the diverse talents and creative passions of West Michigan’s youth. From solo acts that touched the heart to groups that showcased the power of collaboration, this year’s showcase was a reminder of the boundless potential and artistic spirit that thrives in our schools.

Visual Arts: A Canvas of Creativity

In Visual Arts, students displayed their ability to communicate visually through various mediums. Alexander Collins from Reeths-Puffer High School won first place with “Do Not Feed or Annoy,” a piece that challenged viewers with its thematic depth and artistic execution. The category celebrated the imaginative and skillful works of young artists, highlighting the importance of visual expression in our lives.

The Gary W. Ostrom Showstopper Award

A special mention goes to Victor Williams from Reeths-Puffer High School, who was awarded the prestigious Gary W. Ostrom Showstopper Award for his solo vocal performance. His personal remix of “Feeling Good” captivated the judges and audience alike, embodying the spirit of excellence that the showcase aims to foster.

Academics and Athletics: Celebrating All-Round Excellence

While the arts categories captured the audience’s imagination, the showcase also honored nominees in academics and athletics, underscoring the comprehensive talent and hard work of West Michigan’s students.

As the curtains close on the 2024 West Michigan Student Showcase, we are reminded of the boundless potential within our schools and communities. The participants, through their dedication and creativity, have shown us that the future is bright and full of promise. Congratulations to all the students for their remarkable achievements and to the educators and families who support them. Here’s to celebrating the next generation of leaders, artists, and innovators.

Brent is the Managing Partner of CatchMark and has been a technologist for more than 15 years. During that time he has served in diverse leadership roles. At his core, Brent is a problem solver who chose technology because of the diverse and challenging problems it provides. He is currently a Certified Information Systems Security Professional with an emphasis in Cyber Security.

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