PRESTONSBURG — Big Sandy Community and Technical College, along with the Mountain Arts Center and Interstate Natural Gas produced a very successful, sold-out, first annual Big Sandy Idol Regional Talent and Music Scholarship Competition. The competition, held at the Mountain Arts Center on Fri., March 16 and Sat., March 17 at 7:00 PM each evening, featured 30 high school students from all of our local high schools in our five-county region. BSCTC launched Big Sandy Idol, its new music scholarship program for high school students, this year. Clayton Case, the BSCTC Music and Drama Assistant Director and Big Sandy Idol Director; along with Laura Ford Hall, BSCTC Director of Music and Drama; and Timothy Cooley, Technical Director, facilitated and hosted a talent showcase at each high school that offered two winners from each of the 16 schools in Pike, Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, and Martin Counties, a chance to compete for a demo CD recording, a full-album recording, a $1,200.00 vocal scholarship to attend BSCTC, cash prizes, and a spot with the Big Sandy Singers who are directed by Hall. Through the sign-ups, auditions, and school-show productions, all of the local-level school winners were chosen and the two winners from each high school competed at the Mountain Arts Center for the Big Sandy Idol Regional Showcase Competition this past weekend. The Friday night show featured the Runners-Up from each school and the Saturday night show featured the First Place Winners. Each high school in the 5-county area was featured both nights. Out of the 14 students who competed on Friday night, one was crowned the "wild card." Wild card winner Ashley Hall, a sophomore from Johnson Central High School, received a recording contract for a ten-song album from BSCTC's Big Sandy Productions Studio and then went on to Saturday's competition. Winners Saturday night included 3rd Place - Senior William King from Shelby Valley High School; 2nd Place - Junior Brennan Case from Betsy Layne High School; Senior Award Winner (highest scoring senior) - McKenzie Carter from Pikeville High School; and Overall Championship Winner - Junior Kristina Pescosolido from Johnson Central High School. Both Carter and Pescosolido will receive the scholarship to attend BSCTC, an album recording, and a spot with the Big Sandy Singers. Students competing were as follows: Katelyn Webb (Paintsville), Lindsey Carty (MCHS), Cara Hall (Pikeville), Hillary Keesee (BHS), Allison Daniels (SFHS), Trusonda Dotson (Phelps), William King (SVHS), Nathan Arnet (MCHS), Caleb Tackett (BHS), Ryan Lester (Phelps), Tyler Childers (Paintsville), McKinzie Carter (Pikeville), Waylon Nelson (BLHS), Isaac Thacker (ERHS), James Greer (ACHS), Brennan Case (BLHS), Eric Madden (PCHS), Daniel Zienkiewiez (PCHS), Ashley Hall (JCHS), Britta Hall (SVHS), Holly Rice (Prestonsburg), Candice Preece (SCHS), Tierra Davis (SCHS), Carmie Baxter (ERHS), Savannah Bartley (SFHS), Daniel Tungate (SVHS), Katie Lemaster (Prestonsburg), Holly Pack (Prestonsburg), and Kristina Pescosolido (JCHS). In addition, all 30 students, will go on to be a part of the Big Sandy High School Singers, a free summer program, held at BSCTC, where the students will be taught techniques in vocal performance, stage presence, sound and lighting techniques, and much, much more. The Big Sandy Idol Regional Showcase also featured music by The Big Sandy Singers, the college's elite, student singing ensemble, who performed selections from their two albums (released in 2006 - 2007) including "Down to the River to Pray," "Boondocks," "Some Gave All & God Bless America Medley," and the Singer's new favorite, 6-part harmony, a capella piece "A Father Who Can." The Big Sandy Singers are directed by Laura Ford Hall, with assistant direction by Case and technical direction by Cooley and include BSCTC students: Susan Scott, Reca Conn, Brandon Maynard, Troy Burchett, Brad Davis, Frances Branham, Jessica Keathley, and Cheryl Combs. The Big Sandy Idol program was sponsored primarily by Interstate Natural Gas with the Mountain Arts Center, WYMT and Q95 FM. But, the program was made possible by the insight and support of BSCTC President Dr. George Edwards, Provost Dr. Nancy Johnson, and the creativity of the Music and Drama Team including Case, Hall, and Cooley, and was produced and executed by the BSCTC Music and Drama Dept. "We can't wait until next year," Hall said. "This has truly been the most rewarding program that I have ever been a part of. The Big Sandy Idol team, here at BSCTC is already planning for next year." Auditions for the Big Sandy Singers will be held on Saturday, May 5, from noon - 5 PM at the BSCTC Prestonsburg Campus, anyone who enjoys singing and is eligible to enroll in college at BSCTC is welcome to audition. Auditions for Big Sandy Idol will begin coming to each high school in September. Eastern Kentucky high school students can begin planning now to audition for Big Sandy Idol at their school. "I am so proud of all of the students," Case added. "They all worked so hard and they are truly all winners with beautiful, God-given talents. We look forward to working with even more talented eastern Kentucky students next year."