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Students Shine at SEHS Talent Show
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Jason Carter makes a balloon animal during his unicycle routine which he then tossed to the eager children at the foot of the stage. - photo by By Calli Arnold

Students performing in South Effingham High’s talent show left a packed house nothing short of jazzed.

This was the first talent show for SEHS in about 10 years. Sponsored by the SEHS Humanities Club and the Stompin’ Stangs Book Club, the show featured 22 acts showcasing knacks for everything from singing, dancing and instumentals to spoken word, magic tricks and unicycling.

“I’m very impressed with the crowd. The crowd is wonderful,” SEHS Principal Mark Winters said during the show. “I’m just impressed with the students and what they are doing.”

About 500 people attended, and the show raked in more than $2,500 between ticket sales, concessions and donations. The clubs are giving $700 of the proceeds to Invisible Children, a non-profit organization that rescues children in Uganda who have been forced to join the military.

“The amazing thing about the organization is that it was started by students — college students — and 100 percent of the proceeds go back into the charity,” said Kristen Denney, faculty member and Humanities Club advisor. “They really chose it because it’s schools helping schools, students helping students.”

The top three acts will receive savings bonds for $100, $50 and $25 respectively and $10 gift certificates to the school store; winners for Outstanding Awards will get $10 gift certificates to the school store:

  • First Prize: Lauren McNeill and Grant Barnett for their wholesome rendition of “My Heart” by Paramore, with McNeill singing and Barnett on acoustic guitar.
  • Second: Megan Ponton and Hannah Hyde for Phil Collins’ “Another Day in Paradise,” with Ponton’s sweet vocals and Hyde on piano.
  • Third: Michelle Dietrich and Jordan Bala shimmied in with their modern dance moves.
  • Audience Choice: Determined by the audience’s cash donations, the band Cardiophobia — Michael Brannen, Morgan Steptoe, Josh Anderson, Seth Kaminsky and Sam Diederich  — won covering “Ignorance” by Paramore.
  • Outstanding Musician: Easily Garrett Johnson’s “shred-fest” on electric guitar of “Duncan Hills Coffee” by DethKlok.
  • Outstanding Singer: Natalie Starling for “My Favorite Things” by Rodgers and Hammerstein–complete with white dress, blue satin sash.
  • Outstanding Act: Chris Carson, Brandon Childers and Justin Lawson for their impressive ROTC three-man exhibition gun drill routine.
  • Greatest Inspirational Act: An intense spoken word performance by Jade Jackson with her original poem “Lonely Prayer.”
  • Best Costume: A crowd-pleaser, DJ Carter for his impersonation of Elvis Presley with “Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog.”


The acts were woven together by one-liners and costume changes of MCs Andrew Haynes and Amanda Starling. Highlights weren’t in short supply. Joshua Winston injected the audience with his original rap, “Millie Souls,” that left them no choice but to reciprocate with head nods, claps and responses to his calls. Later, Brayden Saxon and Kayla Ferrante “abracadabraed” a handful of classic illusions. Jason Carter finished the show with his spectacular unicycle act that included juggling, balloon animals and ramps.

“The kids are what makes this thing magical and all the teachers’ support and the administration (support). It totally would not have happened without all of them,” said Denney.