I want to thank you for your support and provide you with an update on our recent activities. Over Memorial Day weekend we produced a fundraiser at the Elgin Art Showcase—three different shows in one busy weekend. Between ticket, beverage and memorabilia sales, raffles, and your generous contributions, we raised over $4800.00 for the scholarship fund in Dennie’s name!
We also held auditions for this year’s scholarship applicants and announced ten winners. They are Andrew Hunter and Nathan Knautz of Batavia, Morgan Etnyre of Elgin, Yasmeen Abushawish and Samantha Resser of Saint Charles, Greg Hoover of Sugar Grove, Grace Ryan of Bartlett, Katie Blakeley of Carol Stream, Laura Vesco of Hoffman Estates and Caitlin Preuss of Palatine.
Andrew Hunter recently completed his freshman year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There he performs with the Marching Illini and Wind Orchestra and belongs to the National Association for Music Education and Kappa Kappa Psi. He studies trumpet with Ronald Romm, a founding member of the Canadian Brass. Andrew is majoring in Music Education and serves with the Golden Apple Scholar Institute and has pledged to teach in an Illinois School-of-Need for five years after graduation.
Nathan Knautz graduated from Batavia High School where he was active in the theater, most notably portraying Billy Flynn in Chicago. Nathan also played percussion in band, participated in several choirs and was chosen as a soloist for Show Choir. He has studied voice and percussion privately and attended summer camps for both choir and band. Nathan will be attending Luther College in Decoarah, Iowa, and hopes to become a choir teacher.
Morgan Etnyre is a recent graduate of Burlington Central High School. Morgan is a veteran of many performing arts camps and talent competitions, including Chicago’s Got Talent. Before his family moved to Elgin, Morgan lived in Los Angeles where he attended the Debbie Allen Dance Academy and performed in a group put together by Ms. Allen. Morgan has been accepted at Columbia College where he will pursue a major in Music Production and a minor in Business.
Yasmeen Abushawish graduated from St. Charles East where she was active in choirs and vocal jazz lab and was the recipient of Bel Canto Awards. Yasmeen also appeared in plays and musicals. Elsewhere she studied private voice and piano and attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and SMV Vocal Jazz Camp. She has enrolled at the School for Music Vocations based out of Southwestern Community College in Decorah, Iowa.
Samantha Resser earned her Bachelors of Music Education in Choral Music Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since that time she has been working as a private music instructor and singing with Cor Contiamo, a touring choral ensemble. Samantha plans to pursue her Masters in Music Performance at Loyola University New Orleans which will allow her to audition for the Lyric Opera of Chicago and other major opera houses.
Greg Hoover is a recent graduate of Marmion Academy in Aurora where he performed and competed with several choirs. He also played trumpet and served as Drum Major and Band Master. At Marmion Greg played Lurch in The Addams Family, Yertle in Seussical, the Lion in The Wizard of Oz and Edward Rutledge in 1776. Greg will be majoring in Music Business at the University of Colorado in Denver.
Grace Ryan is a recent graduate of South Elgin High School where she appeared in nine plays and musicals, most notably as Alice Beineke in The Addams Family and Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She also participated in a number of choirs and vocal ensembles and won awards as a vocal soloist. She will study Operatic Vocal Performance with a minor in Acting at DePaul School of Music and also hopes to obtain her Music Education license.
Katie Blakeley graduated from Glenbard North High School where she participated in several choirs and ensembles including the Goldtones. She was active in theatre productions and played Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. Katie enjoys working with special needs students and joined the Best Buddies program. She plans to study Music Performance at the University of Iowa and hopes to pursue a career in music therapy.
Laura Vesco is a recent graduate of James B. Conant High School in Hoffman Estates. Laura sings and plays multiple musical instruments–flute, piccolo, piano, guitar and bass. She was selected to play in the All State Band and All State Pit and the District Honors Orchestra and Band. She has also served as drum major and as a worship leader. Laura hopes to become a high school band teacher and will be studying Music Education at DePaul University.
Caitlin Preuss is a musical theatre triple threat. A recent graduate of Palatine High School where she appeared in plays and musicals, she has also performed extensively with Big Deal Productions. In addition to her theatre credits, she has 14 years of training as a dancer and has served as dance captain and choreographer. She will be attending Carthage College in Kenosha with a double major in Musical Theatre and Directing, as well as a minor in Dance.
The Dennis Taylor Scholarship Foundation for the Performing Arts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 2018. Dennie served as a dancer, choreographer, costumer, makeup artist, set dresser and wig designer at dozens of suburban theaters for more than 50 years. Donations to the Scholarship Foundation in his memory can be made on our website.
It is our sincere wish that the scholarship fund in Dennie’s honor will encourage and reward young performers for many years to come. We appreciate anything you can do to help spread the word. If you are on Facebook, please Like our page.