By John Mederich

Hundreds of Chicago students lined up for Dwyane Wade’s Chicago Has Talent auditions on Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Chicago Theater to potentially showcase their talents for an ultimate prize of $3,000.

Waiting was a positive experience for most students. Maeya Ryan, a sixth grader at Frazier International Magnet School, was ecstatic to sing for the event and woke up at 5:30 a.m. to be first in line.

Doors opened at 9 a.m. and auditioners filed in to register. Contestants had to be between 7 and 18 years old and had to sign an agreement that their performances could be recorded.

Performers awaited their chance to shine in front of a five-person panel of judges in the Chicago Theatre basement, and needed to get a majority of their votes to move on to the next stage. Performances ranged from covers of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” to youngsters rapping “Teach Me How To Study” to the tune of “Teach Me How To Dougie.” Other talents included poetry, spoken word and a rifle drill.

While the judges panel was blown away by some performances, it was a very close call for others. Ja’Mal Green, a senior at Wendell Phillips, expressed his love for Chicago in song, backed by dancers Brianna Horton and Danielle Green. “I was nervous of the judges saying no but I got through it and the audience went crazy,” said Ja’Mal Green.

Tears and cheers marked the end of the auditions at 4 p.m., two hours after they were scheduled to end. Shepard High freshman Takira Rogers had this advice: “Move around a lot and show you have good performance skills.”

Good performance skills were a must at the auditions and carried talented Chicago students to the next phase of the competition: the showcase on the big stage.

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The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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