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Copper Country’s got talent

February 28, 2011

ATLANTIC MINE - Kids in the Copper Country proved they have talent.

Eighteen local students from Houghton-Portage Township Schools, Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw, Adams Township Schools, Lake Linden-Hubbell Schools and Hancock Public Schools participated in the Reach for the S.K.Y. Talent Show Saturday evening at the Brownstone Hall in Atlantic Mine and showcased their talents before a crowd of more than 100 people.

After an introduction from Simple Kindness for Youth President Lynette Borree, Houghton High School senior Jason Cattelino served as emcee for the show by incorporating his juggling act with a bit of comedy.

Article Video

The March of the Snails Band, comprised of Houghton High School juniors and seniors Ben Waddell, Con

"Every time I tap the ball against my head, you guys clap," he told the audience. "You guys are way off."

The show kicked off with Houghton High School senior Ian Figures, who played a piano solo, followed by Trenton Maki, a seventh-grade student from Jeffers High School who took the stage quietly and then wowed the crowd with a vibrant electric guitar solo.

During intermission, Maki was congratulated by friends and family and audience members who were blown away by his musical capabilities.

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Stacey Kukkonen/Daily Mining Gazette
The March of the Snails Band, comprised of Houghton High School juniors and seniors Ben Waddell, Connor Will, Jordan Smith and Matt Schultz, performs at the Reach for the S.K.Y. Talent Show Saturday evening at the Brownstone Hall in Atlantic Mine.

"I was nervous at first and then I just grooved into it," said Maki, who later walked away with third place and $75 in prize money. "I've been playing since I was 8 and I'm 13 now."

When asked if he ever wanted to make a career our of music, Maki said he'd played in front of a crowd only a few times.

"I played once for Baraga School," he said.

In a vocal and guitar duet, Calumet High School seniors Aili Brotherton and Isabella Irwin performed an interpretation of "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers. Eighth-grade Jeffers High School student Paris Puuri was next with an interpretive dance.

Tyerra Arceci, a seventh-grade student from Lake Linden-Hubbell Schools, sang Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" and eighth-grade student Caleb Cornish, also from Lake Linden-Hubbell Schools followed with an electric guitar solo.

"I don't think I'm going to be as good as that second guy," he said of Maki, drawing laughs from the crowd.

Because the next contestant, Emily Oppliger, was nervous, Cattelino performed some juggling tricks before she took the stage. Oppliger, a senior from Hancock High School, performed a Taylor Swift song in a vocal and guitar solo for the crowd.

"This means a lot to me," she said on stage. "It's about growing up, and I'm about to graduate this year."

After the show, Oppliger said she was nervous because of the large crowd.

"I played at the fair once, but it wasn't really good," she said. "This is a first-time for me. I've been playing and singing for a really long time."

Lawrence Ensminger is no stranger to the stage. After intermission, the Calumet High School senior, who performs in plays at the school, sang "You Raise Me Up" at the talent show, while Jeffers High School junior Ian Crane played a guitar solo.

Maria Sliva, a sophomore at Houghton High School sang a Colbie Caillat song and the March of the Snails Band, consisting of Houghton High School juniors and seniors, followed. Band members Ben Waddell, Connor Will, Jordan Smith and Matt Schulz performed an original song, "Useless Conversation," and walked with with first place and a $150 cash prize.

"We're doing this for fun," Waddell said. "We decided to participate to come out and see all of the local talent."

Tia Swanson, a junior at Calumet High School, presented a vocal and guitar solo, and was awarded second and a $100 cash prize.

"I'm so happy to be a part of this," she told the audience before performing. "The talent in the U.P. is so cool."

Jed Kauppila, a senior at Calumet High School, performed a piano solo, and Briana Foreman, a seventh-grade student at Jeffers High School, ended the show with a vocal solo.

Judges included Milt Olsson, Joan Petrelius and Mike Aubin. The Student Leadership Committee, and inter-school organization, was responsible for organizing the show. The event was a fundraiser for S.K.Y.

To see videos of Cattelino balancing a saw blade on his head and March of the Snails performing their winning song, visit



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