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Aurora High senior Hannah Kulawiak wins Shining Star Cle singing competition

October 8, 2018

Aurora High senior Hannah Kulawiak wins Shining Star Cle singing competition

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Doing her best was more important to Hannah Kulawiak than any potential reward.

But when one does her best, the result is often rewarding.

“I felt really good about the work that I did, and then after that, it really didn’t matter to me, because I just felt good about what I had done,” Kulawiak happily said after winning first place at the Shining Star Cle 2018 solo singing competition on Sunday night.

“But (winning) is insane, icing on the cake. Just the satisfaction of knowing you did your best is enough.”

Kulawiak, an Aurora High School senior, and nine other area high schoolers performed before a packed house at the Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square. She was awarded a $10,000 college scholarship, and Aurora’s music department will receive a $2,500 gift. Kulawiak will also have an opportunity to perform with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra at Severance Hall. 

The annual event, which began last year, benefits dementia and memory care programs at non-profit senior healthcare organizations Montefiore, in Beachwood, and The Weils, in Chagrin Falls, and in-home memory care programs. Last year, about $300,000 was raised from Shining Star Cle 2018 through sponsorships, ad sales and ticket sales.

Dylan Grosh-Hoy, a Brecksville-Broadview Heights senior, was the runnerup. Adriana Holst, a Chagrin Falls senior, and Delia Brennan, a Brecksville-Broadview Heights senior, placed third and fourth, respectively.

The trio also earned scholarships.

The other finalists were Margaret Brown, Nordonia, freshman; J.R. Heckman, Solon, senior; Brenna McWreath, Ashtabula Lakeside, senior; Julia Polster, Solon, junior; Hannah Schmidt, Hathaway Brown, senior; Christian John Thomas, Connections Academy, senior.

The alternates, Kyla Burks, an Ohio Virtual Academy junior, and Chad Harris, an Aurora senior, also sang.

The youngsters didn’t merely stand before a microphone and sing. Backed by a multi-piece ban, they each performed songs of their choosing with skill and animation, creatively interpreting the music with their voice inflections, movements and expressions.

Kulawiak, 17, sang “Journey to the Past” from the Broadway show “Anastasia.” She was surrounded by her father, John, and mother, Carolyn, by sisters Gracie and Hailey, and other family and friends after the show.

“This is phenomenaI,” said Kulawiak, who plans to major in musical theatre in college. “I had so many friends doing this, even new friends, and they were all so wonderful. I clearly did not expect this at all. No part of me thought I’d win this, just because everyone was so great. And, so kind and loving to be around. It’s been so much fun.”

Pop, Broadway and show tunes, musical theatre, opera and rock were all performed. Show host Monica Robins, the WKYC/Channel 3 senior health correspondent, asked questions of the singers after each song, providing insight into their personalities, experiences and love for music.

Five accomplished individuals in the music field judged the 10 finalists, narrowing the competition to the final four, each of whom then presented shortened versions of their songs. Then, the placings of the final four were determined by combined voting of the judges and audience.

This summer, nearly 200 students representing nearly 80 high schools across eight counties (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit), and including home-schooled students, completed two rounds of auditions, with 25 students advancing to the semifinals.

In late August, the 10 finalists and two alternates were chosen from the semifinals audition.

Madelyn Wanke, a Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin senior, sang “Piece of My Heart,” made famous by Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company a half-century ago. Wanke won first-place at Shining Star CLE 2017 and thus was not eligible to again compete

Jordan Cooper served as the music/artistic director. KeyBank was the event sponsor, Glenmede the Double Diamond sponsor, and WKYC the media partner.

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