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Students ‘Idol’-ized at annual Shen contest

Students ‘Idol’-ized at annual Shen contest

Mackenzie Cohn’s family brought professionally-printed signs with her face and name to show their su

Mackenzie Cohn’s family brought professionally-printed signs with her face and name to show their support, but it was her voice and rendition of Adele’s “Right as Rain” that made her the reigning Shen Idol.

Cohn swept the annual competition Friday at Shenendehowa High School East, beating out 11 other contestants.

The other student who sang an Adele song, Sarah Beidl, came in second in the competition with “Rolling in the Deep.”

Cohn walked away with a trophy and a “big box” that has a surprise gift that changes every year, said third-place winner Samara Mokaya.

“You don’t know what’s inside this box,” said Mokaya, who sang Mariah Carey’s “Hero.”

Shen Idol is conducted in the style of “American Idol,” complete with the opening music from the show and video footage from the auditions and contestant interviews.

The crowd cheered Mokaya early in the evening.

“It was one of my favorite performances so far of the night,” judge Cathleen Drago said.

The high-schoolers admitted to being nervous before the competition.

’Idol’ contestants

&bull; Lauren Silberstein ("The Climb")

&bull; Tommy Swimm ("Rhythm of Love")

&bull; Jen Chieco ("I Ain't in Checotah Anymore")

&bull; Mallory Rapp ("Landslide")

&bull; Kevin Orlando ("This is How a Heart Breaks")

&bull; Samara Mokaya ("Hero")

&bull; Alex Haff ("Someday")

&bull; Devon Sosnowski ("Lean On Me")

&bull; Mackenzie Cohn ("Right as Rain")

&bull; Andy Wagh ("Feeling Good")

&bull; Sarah Beidl ("Rolling in the Deep")

&bull; Carolyn Krupski ("Get it Right")

“It’s kind of nerve-racking, because you know you’re going to be judged,” said sophomore Devon Sosnowski, who performed Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.”

But the three judges, all teachers, were friendly, pointing out the positives in every performance.

“Listening to you, I thought I was listening to the radio,” Drago said of Tommy Swimm, who sang the Plain White T’s “Rhythm of Love.”

Dozens of contestants tried out in auditions, singing before a trio of preliminary judges who selected who would advance to the final round. Friday’s judges were a different group, judge Cindy Carey explained.

“None of us have seen these kids perform before,” she said.

Shen Idol has taken place since 2005.

Only one freshman — Mallory Rapp — was a finalist this year.

“I love being in front of a lot of people,” Rapp said before singing Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.”

The judges praised Kevin Orlando for his dramatic rendition of Rob Thomas’ “This is How a Heart Breaks,” where he spent most of the time singing to the audience with a red spotlight trained on his face.

“You came out of nowhere and stormed the stage,” Drago said.

Jen Chieco weathered a voice-sapping illness before the show and a technical glitch when her microphone was turned off.

“I’ve been sick all week, so I’m just afraid I’m going to sound bad,” she said before her performance of Carrie Underwood’s “I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore.” “Everyone’s going to be here supporting me.”

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