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Jefferson High student named Teen Idol

March 28, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- On stage, 15-year-old Heather Gayle soared through the lyrics of "I Have Nothing" and "I Will Always Love You," but when she was announced Saturday night as the winner of Washington County's Teen Idol competition, the Jefferson High School freshman was speechless.

"I'm really happy!" Gayle finally said to a roar of applause from the packed Maryland Theatre.

Gayle was one of 20 talented Tri-State-area teens that glittered, strutted and belted their way to stardom at the county's third annual Teen Idol contest.

The competition was sponsored by the Washington County Free Library and The Maryland Theatre.

Gayle won the competition's $1,000 grand prize.

The runner-up in Saturday's contest was Sharaya Nason, 16, a junior at North Hagerstown High School, who won $500.

Other finalists included Elijah Pugh, 17, of North Hagerstown High School; Dustin Perrot, 19, of Hagerstown Community College; and Erika Cooper, 19, of Hagerstown Community College.

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Judge Niki Reese Perini, the founder and artistic director of the Authentic Community Theatre, summed up Gayle's performance with a string of descriptions.

"You are a fantastic talent, a strong performer, storyteller, actor; in the moment, gorgeous, dancer," Perini said.

Another judge, Maryland Theatre Executive Director Jenni Hatcher, added two more to the list: "Beautiful and rich."

Michael Thorsen, principal of the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, said it was clear Gayle was well-trained.

"Someone is obviously doing a wonderful job helping you and training you," he said.

About 500 people attended the event. Tickets were $10.

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