KNOXVILLE—On Saturday night, students from all over East Tennessee gathered for a night of competition at the Bijou Theatre. Students from across the region had the chance to audition to win a spot to perform on stage at the historic location.
The Fourth Annual Bijou Awards was a competition to showcase students and their performing arts talents, such as singing and acting. The competition had five different categories, and five students were selected for each category. The categories were: Rising Star, Male Acting, Female Acting, Male Singing, and Female Singing.
Four Oak Ridge Schools students were chosen to compete in this year’s awards. Sarah Hepler, an eighth-grader from Robertsville Middle School, and Marian Vacaliuc, a seventh-grader from Jefferson Middle School, sang in the Rising Star competition. Treston Henderson and Jacob Moreno, seniors from Oak Ridge High School, competed in the Male Singing category.
Jay Apking, the director of the Bijou Awards, was thrilled after the competition.
“This is the best show we have had in four years,” Apking said, “Across the board for all the categories, we argued about who was the best…it’s almost impossible to decide.”
Henderson, who has been singing all of his life, was excited about competing in his last Bijou Awards.
“The competition went great,” Henderson said. “I loved every second of it. It was such a great experience.”
Moreno competed in his last Bijou Awards as well.
“I wanted to finish out the year strong and enjoy my last bit of high school chorus,” Moreno said. “I learned a lot from the competition. I’m looking forward to what the next years hold for me.”
The Rising Star division is for students who are not yet in high school. Hepler, who competed in that category, took a lot of time to choose her song.
“I wanted to sing ‘I Dreamed A Dream,’ but that was done last year so I chose my second favorite song from ‘Les Miserables,’” the 13-year-old said. “Having everyone’s eyes on you will shake you up if you are 13…but it was a really great experience and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.”
Vacaliuc was one of the youngest competitors.
“I really wanted to express that I can do this, and that I can hit those high notes…I wanted to show the audience that,” Vacaliuc said. “I thought my song ‘Watch What Happens’ really expressed that to everyone.”
The Bijou Awards will continue the tradition, hoping to do more than just singing and acting in its future.
“We are working toward turning this into a week-long show, featuring dancing, instruments, bands, even photography,” Apking said. “For now, we are really happy with how this turned out and look forward to next year’s competition.”
Here are the winners from the Saturday night competition and their schools and grades:
- Rising Star—Heather Bohan, Farragut Middle School, 8th
- Male Acting—Jackson Mullins, Webb School of Knoxville, 11th
- Female Acting—Marybeth Davis, Grace Christian Academy, 12th
- Male Singing—Matthew Cleveland, Grace Christian Academy, 10th
- Female Singing—Erykah Carter, L&N Stem Academy, 12th
You can see the complete list of competitors here. The competition gave the teenagers a chance to showcase their talents and compete for a $1,000 individual scholarship and a $500 award for their school.
See interviews with the four Oak Ridge students and Apking here:
For more information about the Bijou Theatre, visit www.knoxbijou.com.
Savanna Schubert is a freelance contributor to Oak Ridge Today.
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