All Americans

Verdigre students learn music, and more, from The Young Americans

By Jason Wessendorf

Who are The Young Americans? What do they do?

For nine Verdigre youth, those questions were answered this past week as they spent three days learning from and practicing with the group.
The Young Americans® were founded almost 50 years ago in Hollywood, Calif. For all of these years, their purpose has remained the same:
• To provide their talented Young American student performers (17-23 years of age) with education in music, dance, performance and teaching methods.
• To use this training, and the good will and optimism of these young people to support music in schools and its inherent benefits through conducting International Music Outreach Workshops in educational facilities of all types throughout the world.

The three-day workshops culminate in a 2-hour concert featuring the workshop participants performing alongside The Young Americans. The performance is the end result, with the core of the workshop focused on providing experiences and tools to students that yield individual, personal growth and understanding.

The Young Americans consist of 250 members from over 39 states and 8 countries. Among its 3,000+ alumni are professionals in music education, fine arts, motion pictures, television, radio, Broadway and recording. The Young Americans is a 501(c)(3) corporation with no political agenda, no religious affiliation and no shareholders to satisfy. Many of their staff work as volunteers, most are former Young Americans; all are dedicated to the proposition that music and dance, along with the enthusiasm, optimism and good will of their student performers, will make the world a better place.

The group’s tour brought them to O’Neill Public School for a March 8-10 workshop where members expanded the horizons of and instilled confidence in over a hundred area youth.

Attending from Verdigre were Carlena Forman, Kelsey Knigge, Amanda Boggs, Serena Babcock, Max Hollmann, Alex Hollmann, Bryson Wessendorf, Jacie Rifer, and Alexis Hrbek. The price for the three-day workshop was $27 per student after partial funding from the Verdigre Music Boosters and the Verdigre Public School Foundation.

The 7:00 p.m. show on Sunday, March 10, featured The Young Americans performing first, offering a wide range of dancing and singing styles. After intermission, it was the students’ time to shine as they weaved through the carefully-orchestrated series of group numbers, solos and dance moves they had skillfully learned and practiced over the last three days.

A professional show from start to finish, the audience was taken through decades of popular music and movie themes, moving inspirational numbers that brought tears to the eyes of audience and performers alike, international music from the countries the group had visited on tour, and much, much more.

Comments from the Verdigre students summed up the experience as “exciting,” “amazing,” “awesome,” and “the best experience of my life.”

“It was very impressive performance,” said Pete Pavlik, Verdigre Public School band/choir director. “The commitment of The Young Americans and their enthusiam is just fantastic. The intense learning and practicing all the area kids do culminates in an unbelievable end result.”

Update: Four of the students that attended made plans to attend the Young Americans summer camp in Fremont, Neb., this summer. A bake sale and hot potato bar raised half of the money required (approximately $1400 of a $2800 goal), with the Music Boosters providing $70 per student and the VPS Foundation paying for the remainder. They will spend a week expanding upon the great lessons they learned during the 3-day workshop, becoming better leaders and making lifetime memories.