Capital Region

Madison VanDenburg’s ‘American Idol’ run ends with third, applause at her accomplishment

Madison VanDenburg takes third place in 'American Idol' competition
VanDenburg's friends and fans filled the Shaker High School auditorium Sunday night for the American Idol season finale.
VanDenburg's friends and fans filled the Shaker High School auditorium Sunday night for the American Idol season finale.

To the crowd gathered at Shaker High School Sunday night for the “American Idol” watch party, It didn’t matter whether contestant and Shaker student Madison VanDenburg grabbed the top-spot in the show’s season finale. Even though she ultimately came in third place, in the eyes of her friends and local fans, she had won regardless. 

The Cohoes native faced off against fellow “Idol” finalists Alejandro Aranda and Laine Hardy during the last round of the competition with her own renditions of “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and “Breakaway” by former Idol winner Kelly Clarkson.

Both VanDenburg’s friends and fans poured into the school Sunday evening prior to the season finale’s start at 8 p.m., eager to get a seat in the auditorium where the show was being broadcast from a large video projector.

Student government representatives were selling shirts with VanDenburg’s name on the front and the number to call to vote for her during the show on the back well before it began. Plenty of attendees threw them on before entering the auditorium. 

Images: Photos from Sunday night’s viewing party at Shaker High, May 19, 2019

Baked goods, cakes and signs all singing VanDenburg’s praises were all over the hallway leading into the auditorium. Some people even carried small photos of VanDenburg on sticks that they would hoist in the air throughout the course of the show to complement their cheers, like when judge Luke Bryan said that, in his opinion, VanDenburg performed the best during the first round.

Erin Curley, 19, one of VanDenburgh’s friends, was at the viewing party on Sunday to support her. Curley, from Latham, confirmed that no matter what happened in the competition, she and the community were as proud of VanDenburg as they could possibly be.

“No matter what, she’s already won here. We’re all here to support her,” she said.

North Colonie Central School District Superintendent D. Joseph Corr said that VanDenburg’s unique achievement, and the reason to admire her, is that she has transcended being on a singing competition.

“What Madison means to us all is, it’s one of our own, a member of our school community, a member of our larger community, putting the hard work in, realizing her talent and sharing that with a stage larger than the local community, with the country and the world,” he said. “Madison herself said she has a gift. The gift of music. And she wants to share that generously with everyone, and she’s doing that right now and I admire that so much about her.”

He added that her journey has been filled with hard, nonstop work, which she should be commended for.

“It’s a great example that, if you put in the time and the hard work, you can realize your goals and dreams. You may not get on American Idol but you can do it on another level, a level that is so meaningful to yourself and to others as well. I want her to know that her school and community love her and support her and that we’re behind her all the way,” he said.

Mikayla Brunell, 16, of Loudonville and Aidan Pelon, 14, of Colonie, were among the student government volunteers working the t-shirt stand before the show started.

“We just wanted to do whatever we could to support her,” Brunell said.

“I’m just excited to see what happens tonight,” Pelon said.

Shannon Lipscomb, 16, of Watervliet, was another student government volunteer who was helping out on Sunday night while also supporting VanDenburg.

Images: Photos from Sunday night’s viewing party at Shaker High, May 19, 2019

“Make sure you guys start voting as soon as the show starts,” she called out to the audience a few minutes before the finale aired.

Richard Murphy, principal of Shaker High School, said the past few weeks watching VanDenburg had proven that not just Shaker, but that the entire Capital Region was a tight-knit and supportive community.

“Whatever the outcome, it’s been an awesome experience,” he said, prior to the show’s start. “I’m touched and impressed that everyone came out.”

Kathleen Skeals, the district’s deputy superintendent called VanDenburg a great kid.

“Madison, thank you for sharing your gift with all of us here at your school, as well as your whole town and region. We are so proud of you, you are absolutely our American Idol,” she said.

After sharing a moment disappointment following the announcement that VanDenburg had been eliminated from the competition, the crowd erupted into massive round of applause for her.

Categories: -News-, Schenectady County

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