Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jess Paniszczyn
Teens took center stage for the 13th annual Friday Nite Live teen talent competition presented at the Irving Arts Center on Feb. 15.
“The Irving Arts Center estimated the audience to be about 325, and we had about 40 performers,” said Christine Wordlaw, Youth Programs Specialist. “We had a lot of really different acts this year. In the past, we had six bands. This year we didn’t have that many bands audition, so we ended up with only three. We had more singers and variety acts this year.”
The arts and entertainment are an important part of recreation, according to Recreation Superintendent Joseph Moses.
“Friday Nite Live gives kids a chance to showcase their talents. In a lot of cities, the recreation departments have such an emphasis on the athletic side of recreational programming that we kind of forget about the arts side of it. Not everybody is going to be an athlete. Giving kids a chance to show what they can do in the arts through singing, dancing and live performances is a great recreational outlet. I am proud that we provide those outlets for our kids here in Irving.
“We also have the Spirited Youth Awards. People nominate kids who volunteer or who standout for those awards based on things they do of high character. It is very important that we recognize those kids. Far too often, there is an emphasis on kids who do something bad; but no one recognizes kids who do something good.
“One of the kids who received a Spirited Youth Award, Chris Alexander, has attended the Northwest Recreation Center for years. If you knew Chris before the last few years, one of the things that you would have noticed about Chris was his long, dark hair. It was down to the middle of his back, if not longer. When he cut his hair, it was noticeable. He went from long hair to a military style crew cut. When I asked the staff why he had cut his hair, I was informed his older sister had been diagnosed with a form of cancer, and in support of her, so she could have a wig made, he had his hair cut.
“He is a good kid. He volunteers and helps out wherever he can. When you consider that he made that kind of a jester to help his sister without a second thought, it is a great example of a young man putting aside his own wants for someone in his family. He is a great example of the youth and teens we have in Irving.”
At the end of the evening as the awards were given, there was some consternation as a couple of winners dropped their crystal awards, which shattered on the stage.
“There was a little communication breakdown,” Wordlaw explained. “The crystal awards were not connected to the boxes. The judges wanted to hand the winners the awards and have an opportunity to say congratulations to the winners. Some of the judges didn’t realize the awards weren’t connected. A couple of them slipped and fell on the stage. It was one of those things.
“I felt bad, because the winners didn’t have anything to take home with them to show their success. But we’ve already contacted the company and have new ones on the way. The winners will have their new awards shortly. It was a very fixable thing, and the kids still all had a great time.”
The 2012 Spirited Youth Award Winners are Chris Alexander, Taylor Anderson, Ericka Castilo and Hasan Yaqub.
Friday Nite Live winners include:
Best Variety: Huydini - Huy Pham of Irving High School
Best Movement: Elizabeth Hernandez of Nimitz High School
Best Singing Performance: Makenzie Barrs of Irving High School
Best Band: The Perjury- Luke Bartke, Spencer Carrol, Gabe Jordan
People’s Choice Award: (determined by audience text votes) Brandon Hassan Band –
Matthew Fowler, Brandon Hassan, Tommy Murphy, Kristina Marie Juliette Parent-Brito.