Michael Wagner

Age: 18

School/Grade: Senior at Fort Dodge Senior High

Hometown: Fort Dodge

1. What activities are you currently involved in?

Soccer, choir, Spring Musical, Performers Club, Band, National Honors Society, Student Ambassadors, First United Methodist Praise Band, and Fort Dodge Choral Society.

2. How did you become interested in music and theater?

I joined choir in 7th grade because some of my friends were in it, and I was exposed to a whole new side of music that I fell in love with.

3. What, or who, inspired you musically and why?

Aaron Amhof always had some song he was practicing and perfecting. His work ethic inspired me to strive for perfection as well.

4. What role has been your favorite to play? Why?

Jesse in Tuck Everlasting has been a fun part to play. His positive energy and challenging songs have pushed me to be better, while still being a character I can relate to in many aspects of my life.

5. What theater productions have you been involved in?

Wizard of Oz (The Scarecrow) A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Oberon) While The Lights Were Out (Alma Threedle) Footloose (Willard Hewitt) Radium Girls (Raymond Berry) Les Misérables (Enjolras) Once Upon a Fairy Tale (Murray) Tuck Everlasting (Jesse Tuck)

6. What is the most challenging part for you when it comes to performing?

When you perform a piece so many times, giving the same energy as you would the first time you rehearse it is difficult.

7. Do you come from an artistic family? If so, in what ways?

No. Both of my brothers are athletes who went into the engineering field in college.

8. Will music and the arts be a part of your life in 25 years? If so, how?

Yes, I plan to conduct a choir and direct high school musicals to show younger generations the wonders of music.

9. What are your plans after high school?

I plan to major in Vocal Music Education at the University of Northern Iowa

10. Who do you look up to and why?

Andrew Barth Feldman. As a College student, he put in the work to make himself known and ended up as the star of a Broadway musical. He shows that almost anything is possible with determination.

11. You have 2 tickets to go to anywhere in the world. Where would you go? Who would you take with you? Why?

Glacier National Park. I would get a group of my friends together to go on a hiking trip and enjoy each other’s company.

Saiya Noborikawa

Age: 15 

Grade/School: 9th grade freshman at Fort Dodge Senior High 

Hometown: I was born in Waterloo and then I moved to Humboldt for my freshman year in high school.

1. Artistic Interests: I´m interested in drawing, painting, crafting, sculpting, and playing flute, and piano. 

2. How long have you been interested in art?

I have been interested in art all my life. I come from an artistic family, so I have grown up with skilled artists since I was born. My grandmother is a watercolor, oil, and acrylic artist and owns an art gallery in West Amana. My mother is an art teacher at Fort Dodge Senior High. 

3. What do you most enjoy about creating art?

I enjoy creating art because it is a way I express my emotions and thoughts rather than crowding my overactive and busy mind. I also enjoy art because it comes in many forms from drawing to music, to cooking to writing.  

4. What is the most difficult, or challenging, part for you when creating a new piece?

The most challenging part of creating

a new peace is getting started, especially when it is a blank page it can be difficult to fill in the emptiness. 

5. What is the most rewarding part of the artistic process?

The most rewarding part of the artistic process is reflecting on where you started. Whether it is when you got into art and how much you have progressed or the beginning of the project you have started. 

6. Do you plan to use your artistic skills after high school?

If so, in what ways? I have always planned to use my artistic skills after high school either going to art school or any of the career I choose, art will be a part of my life it embodies me it´s how I communicate. 

7. Who inspires you and why?

I'm inspired by Martin Luther King Jr because when I was in first grade I had to reenact the MLK famous I have a dream speech in front of my whole elementary school MLK taught me to stand up for what I believe in pushing me to want to be a self-advocate for myself and others. 

8. What other activities are you involved with?

I´m Involved in many other activities such as sports girls track, girls volleyball,and cross country. I am also involved with large group and individual speech. As well as silver cord, the Fort Dodge Fine Arts Association Youth Council, both band and choir, musical, fall play, art club, performers club, and Trio. I am also the youth representative for the Fort Dodge Public Art Commission and the designer, and painter, on the side of the Blanden Art Education Center’s new building. 

Abby Toms


Hometown: Gowrie, Iowa 

Grade/School: 9th – I am homeschooled and duel enrolled into South East Valley for extra circular activities. 

Instrument: guitar, vocals, and occasionally piano

1. When did you first start taking guitar lessons? 

I started taking online lessons around three years ago, but I switched to in-person lessons with Jeremy Ober about one year ago. 

2. What is the most challenging thing about playing the guitar? 

A year ago I would have said the bar chords. Although those can still be challenging at times, I would say doing lead guitar and picking out the right individual notes while keeping time and not rushing or slowing down is more challenging. Picking the notes gets more challenging the longer I have to repeat a part because there is more time that I could mess up. 

3. What do you most enjoy about playing the guitar? 

I enjoy the challenges that come with learning new songs, and I enjoy how many different things one can do with the guitar whether that be strumming and being more of a back-ground filler or a lead guitar part. 

4. What made you decide to take voice lessons?

I wanted to learn where my limit is with my voice and learn how to sing without going flat or sharp. 

5. What do you most enjoy about being a part of your church’s Praise Team? 

I enjoy the community that comes with it. I love how they all cheer each other on, and how they never judged me for where my abilities were when I started. I also appreciated that they did not count my age against me, and that they treat me like a young adult instead of a young kid. 

6. Who inspires you and why? 

Francesca Battistelli inspires me because she started her singing career when she was young, became married, had kids, and still found time for music. I also appreciate how she kept her faith and did not conform to this world even when she gained popularity. 

7. If you could take a trip, anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? 

I would travel to a mountain that is located right outside of Nashville, Tennessee and hike into it so that I was not by the road with all the cars. I love that the mountains out in Tennessee have rocky parts but also contain plenty of trees. Being up on a mountain, I can look out and see a great amount of land, and the view reminds me that there are bigger things than the problems that I am facing. There is also just a sense of peace about being away from tons of people. 

8. What do you plan to do after you finish school?

I would love to become either a worship leader at a church or start/join a band. 

9. Walk us through a typical day in the life of Abby. 

Every day I start off with making my bed then proceeding to start school. Once I am done with school, I will usually play some music and sing to it while I straighten up my bedroom. After that I will practice guitar or vocals. I often do both at the same time. Then I will probably go outside and play with my brothers. Once the evening hits I will either play a song on my guitar, watch a movie with my family, or read a book. 

Natalia Lopes

Age: 11


Hometown: FORT DODGE

1. In what ways do you participate in arts and music in Fort Dodge? 

I’m involved in gymnastics and dance, take violin lessons, and also involved in my school choir, orchestra (violin) and band (I play the clarinet).

2. What do you most enjoy about dance and music?

I like how dance makes me feel free and music takes me to a different place like I’m in my own world. 

3. What have you learned from being involved in dance and music?

There are a lot of people just like me that enjoy the same things I do, and we can get along really well. It also taught me to work hard and have discipline. 

4. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Either a physical therapist or a marine biologist. 

5. What is your favorite musical and why?

Hamilton because it teaches us American history. 

6. If you could play any part in a musical, who would you play and why?

Hamilton  - Elisa, because she is very energetic, have high notes and she sings my favorite song “Burn”

7. Walk us through a typical day in the life of Natalia Lopes

It’s hard because I have different things on different days buy my busiest day looks like this: 

6:15am – Wake for school.

7:15am – Leave for school.

3:05pm – Come back from school and get ready for Volleyball and gymnastics.

3:30pm – Eat, do homework, do shores, practice violin, practice clarinet, and talk to friends

6:00pm – Go to gymnastics.

7:00pm – Go to Volleyball

8:30pm – Go back home, eat, take a bath, hang with my family

10:00pm – Go to bed

8. If you got to meet any famous person in the whole world, who would it be and why?

Lana DelRey because she is one of my favorite artists. Her music is so soft and calming.

9. You are stranded on a desert island. You can bring 3 items with you. What would you bring and why?

- A machete, so I can cut things and make a shelter

- Shoes, to protect my feet

- Fresh water because you need to stay hydrated, and you cannot drink salt water

10. Who do you look up to the most and why?

My dad, because he is one of the reasons why I do music and dance. 

Elle Clark

Age: 18

Grade/School: Freshman at Iowa Central Community College

Hometown: Humboldt

1. Tell us about some of the cultural experiences you had growing up. (Dance, Singing, Theatre etc.)

I started taking dance lessons at 3 years old and I fell in love with it! When I was five I was in my first ever theatre production and found my passion. I’ve loved every role I have gotten to play and have been very lucky for the opportunities those characters have given me. I’ve gotten to perform at the Iowa High School Musical Theatre Awards three years in a row and got to perform a spotlight medley, an opening medley, and a triple threat medley which gave me lifelong memories and friends! I also grew up watching the Bill Riley Talent Search at the state fair and was named the 2023 Bill Riley Talent Search Grand Champion this past summer! 

2. Do you come from an “artys” family? 

I do! My parents met at Iowa Central while they were in the play Lend Me a Tenor. My mom is a choreographer and always taught me in dance and helped choreograph musicals that I’ve been in. I always go to my dad for audition advice, he’s always been my favorite character actor :)

3. What is your earliest memory performing?

My earliest memory performing is when I played an Orphan in Humboldt High School’s 2010 production of Annie. Something I am so grateful for is 11 years later I got to play Annie in Humboldt’s 2021 spring musical. It was such a full circle moment for me! I hold the show very close to my heart. 

4. What do you most enjoy about performing?

My favorite thing is how it makes me feel. The stage feels like home to me. Becoming a character and stepping out on stage to see everyone you love in the audience is a feeling I can’t explain. It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life!

5. If you could play any role in and theatre production, who would you play?

Growing up my dream role has always been Belle in Beauty and the Beast. This year I am so so lucky and so so grateful that I get the opportunity to play Belle in Iowa Centrals Spring Musical!! I can’t wait!

6. You’re stranded on a deserted island. What 3 things do you bring and why?

This is such a hard question. I would have to say I would find a way to get my piano to the desert to keep me entertained. I’d definitely have to bring some cherry coke and a bag of New Orleans chips to keep me going


7. What activities/groups/ensembles are you currently involved with?

I am currently involved in Triton Singers, Encore, Pop Singers, Spring Musical, and I was in the Fall Play!

8. What do you want to do after Iowa Central Community College?

I’m not sure where I want to go after Iowa Central Community College yet, but I know I want to keep performing!

9. Who are some of your role models? Why?

My biggest role model right now is Eva Nobelzada! I admire her drive, passion, and hard work that she brings to every one of her performances.  

10. Tell us one word that you would use to describe yourself. 

I would say I’m passionate because I love to dive in to every project I do!

Ty Williamson

  1. Age: 22
  2. Hometown: Fort Dodge, Iowa
  3. Professional Aspirations: Editorial Photographer

Growing up, was your family interested in arts and creativity? If so, how? 

Yes, my grandparents owned their own photography business. Growing up I remember my grandfather, Al Williamson, would take me to his studio and take pictures with me. Photography and art in general have always been a major part of my life even before I knew it was something I wanted to do. 

As a student, what are some of the activities you have been involved in? 

I have been part of the University of Northern Iowa’s newspaper “The Northern Iowan,” and was a photographer for the campus magazine, “Uprising Magazine.” I took part in both of these for about a semester but now I pretty much just focus on school and my own freelance work. 

What type of photography work do you hope to do after college? 

My goal is to focus on more editorial imagery with a combination of mixed media techniques. I also really want to seek out an agency that would support my creative direction. My images don't necessarily follow any trends which helps my work stay unique to me. I can’t predict what my future photography style may be but I want to continue to explore new methods and techniques in order to continually grow as an artist and individual. 

Who inspires you and why? 

I would say other photographers are my biggest inspiration. In a way, I see them as competition in the friendliest way possible. When I see others grow, I want to grow. I try to surround myself with creatives in order to keep inspired and motivated in order to keep working towards my goals. 

Describe yourself in one word: 

Free. I believe that one factor that has made my work what it is today is the freedom of exploration. When I first started my photography, specifically my fine art photography, I never posted it on social media. I didn’t want anybody’s opinion on the work at all and in fact I only really let a few people see what I had created. I feel as if this helped me explore new ideas without others trying to opinionate the work. Although I always see value in other people's perception of my artwork, I don’t let it direct my flow. This freedom to create and explore new ideas early on really helped push my images out of the box as I continued to explore new methods of creating. 

Where do you see yourself in 25 years? 

When I’m 47, I’d like to have my own studio. I love photographing in a studio setting and I am hoping when I’m at that age, I’ll be able to have one of my own. Being at Iowa Central, my favorite part of the program were the times we had to use the studio. The feeling of capturing an image that has perfect lighting and posing in a great studio space really blew me away. This is also where my favorite images that I’ve created were photographed. 

Favorite type of music to listen to and why? 

I can’t say that I have a favorite type of music to listen to, really I just go off of what my mood is. My goal is to always create with the intention of delivering an experience for the viewer and sometimes these messages can be simple or on the other hand, chaotic. Depending on my intended message, it could be psychedelic rock, rap, or even smooth jazz. It really just depends on the vibe of the work itself. 

What’s one thing you’d like to try that you never have? Why? 

Photograph with color film in a studio space. Something that I truly admire in a photographer’s arsenal is when they can shoot with film but especially colored film. The process of developing color film is quite difficult and sometimes you can be left without a product if the process of development doesn’t go as planned. While I want to master the art of film photography, I also want to master the studio. Combining these two elements could truly create work that I have never seen before and is something that I feel could push my ideas even further. 

Logan Hamilton

  • Age: 17
  • Grade and High School: Senior at Fort Dodge Senior High
  • Hometown: Fort Dodge

1. Tell us about some of your cultural experiences growing up in Fort Dodge.

 I remember falling in love with the arts from a young age. From taking art classes at the Blanden Art Museum, seeing live bands performing at the band shell, to watching local musicals and plays, I knew that I wanted to do it all. In high school, I’ve been involved in Marching Band, Concert Choir and Jazz Band, as well as solo/ensemble contest, Speech Contest, Choir & More. 

2. What are your plans after high school?

I am planning to go to Iowa Central Community College for two years, and then transfer to the University of Iowa to major in English and Creative Writing, and a minor in art. I want to be able to write books and comics for all ages, and expose youth to the arts. 

3. What are the biggest benefits for a child, growing up in Fort Dodge, being involved in the arts?

Being involved in the arts as a kid really opened my eyes to the possibilities, and also made me realize my love for the arts. I made so many friends along the way (even if I don’t remember most of them), and it shaped me into the person that I am today. 

4. You can travel anywhere in the world…….where do you go, and why? And, who do you take with you, and why? 

Ireland! And not because I’m a ginger! I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland. It’s so beautiful and the weather is so perfect. I would take my mom, and probably my friends Sydney Gebers, Olivia Wood & Michael Wagner. 

5. Who are some of your role models?

My elementary band and music teacher Mr. Brad Bleam, and my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Merritt are two of my role models. Mr. Bleam introduced me to the wonderful world of music. He came up with a strange and unique way of teaching us our notations, and he was always willing to provide extra lessons and harder music if I ever asked. I can’t thank him enough for making me realize that talent can get you far, but practice gets you farther. Mrs. Merritt is my all-time favorite teacher! She would give us gum for getting stuff done, she let us perform fun plays if we raised enough tokens, and introduced me to my now favorite author, Neil Gaiman. I thrive to be like them both, and I hope to influence the youth to the arts in some way in the future. 

6. Tell us about one of your best experiences when performing/creating art. 

During my freshman year for band, during marching band, drumline got a 9.3 at state competition. When I joined Jazz Band after, we ended up being the first Jazz 2 ensemble to get a Division 1 at contest. Joining band and getting involved with music is one of the best decisions I’ve made, and freshman year really just proved the point to me that I can achieve great things if I really work for it. 

7. Walk us through a day in the life of Logan Hamilton.

I usually wake up around 7:00am every day, and after getting ready, I get either my super complicated $7.00 coffee order or an energy drink, with a breakfast sandwich. Then I get to school a little after 7:50. After school, I normally work one of my 3 jobs Scooters, Taco Tico or as a drummer for First United Methodist Church. On those special days where I don’t work, I’m in my room drawing or playing my guitar. 

Kiley Swanson

  • Age: 11 years old
  • Grade/School: 6th grade at Fort Dodge Middle School
  • Hometown: Badger

1. What are some of your hobbies? 

I enjoy singing, spending time with my family, playing outside with my friends and reading.

2. What musical theatre/theatre shows have you been involved in?

I was one of the Three Little Pigs in Shrek The Musical JR. and I was a Zookeeper in Madagascar-A Musical Adventure JR. both through Stage Door Productions. I’ve also participated in the children’s choir musicals at my church for the past six years. 

3. What do you most enjoy about singing

I like being able to sing with my friends and telling a story through the words of the songs that I sing.

4. What has been your scariest moment performing? 

I was very nervous to perform the National Anthem this past summer for the Badger Fireman’s Ball because I was doing it by myself for the first time and I was worried about messing up such an important song. At first I struggled a little, but the crowd started singing with me and it helped me finish strong. 

5. What are you most proud of when it comes to music/performing?

I am proud to say that I always give my all when I sing and perform.  

6. Who do you look up to and why?

I look up to Gretchen Stanley because she’s helped me a lot and has accompanied me when I’ve sung at my church. Amy Champagne because she is my choir director at church and she makes singing a lot of fun. Lastly, my mom because she encourages me to do the things that I’m scared to do because she believes in me.

7. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I would like to go to New York City with my mom to go to see a lot of shows on Broadway.

8. Walk us through a typical day in the life of Kiley Swanson.

Wake up at 6am, get ready for the day, say my prayers, go to the bus stop at 7am, go to school, come home, play outside or get ready to go to whatever activity, lesson or practice one of us 3 kids has, eat dinner, get ready for bed and go to bed. It’s safe to say I’m almost always singing while doing most of these things too!

Josie Novencindo

1. Name: Josie Novencido

2. Age: 17

3. Grade/School: Fort Dodge Senior High

4. Hometown: Fort Dodge

5. Artistic Interests: 

My artistic interests include drawing digitally or simply doodling in a sketchbook, but recently I’ve realized that I also like using watercolors. I have dabbled in other mediums such as charcoal, markers, and scrapbooking. Things I tend to draw are character designs along as once and a while drawing animals. I like practicing expressions, weather that be facially, bodily, or even more abstractly. Playing with composition, as well as colors, also pique my interest.

6. How long have you been interested in art? 

I have always been interested in art. I suppose I started taking it more seriously in 5th grade when I started drawing in my first sketchbook.

7. What do you most enjoy about creating art?

I like it as a creative and emotional outlet. I think I would find it very hard to express myself if I didn’t draw. It is also very cool making a thought or image in your head physical, and it’s cool putting out unique ideas into the world with art.

8. Do you come from an artistic family?

I’d say so, my two sisters also enjoy art in different ways but my brother is more like my mom where they enjoy STEM activities such as robotics and math.

9. What is the most difficult, or challenging, part for you when creating a new piece?

Posing and drawing at extreme angles is very challenging for me, so when I get too ambitious and want to draw at an angle that I can’t get right or don’t have a reference for, I get kind of frustrated. In general I find it hard to realize that the product will not turn out the way it started in my head, which is a shame. 

10. What is the most rewarding part of the artistic process?

The problem-solving process that goes with making art is at times nagging but in the long run it helps you develop creative ways to go about things and teaches you to not only think outside of the box, but at different angles within it. I also do quite enjoy the end where you can sit and take in the final product along with anyone you end up sharing your art with.

11. Do you plan to use your artistic skills after high school? If so, in what ways?

  As of now I have no solid plan for after high school, but I do want to pursue something in the arts or at the very least something creative. Art teacher has crossed my mind several times, but for now the plan is to go to college, take some art classes, and see what happens I suppose.

12. Who inspires you and why?

It would be a crime not to say my art teacher Mrs. Miller-Clay! She really opened my eyes to being positive by not being too critical of myself and my art while also helping me improve my skills. Great amount of thanks, I can’t wait to take more of your classes!

13. What other activities are you involved with?

I am historian of the Performer’s Club, vice president in my 4-H club, I somewhat help run the art club in my school, I’m involved in scouting, and I recently became a DM for the DND club this year.

Abby Newman

1. Name: Abby Newman

2. Age: 13

3. Hometown: Fort Dodge

4. Grade/School: Going into 8th grade at Fort Dodge Middle School

5. What do you most enjoy about being involved in community theater? It’s fun to get dressed

up in a costume and pretend to be someone else.

6. What has been your favorite show to perform? Why? “Scrooge! The Musical”. I like the

‘Christmas Carol’ story and working with everyone, and I made a lot of new friends. I also got to

be on stage with my little brother and my mom. The costumes for this show were so much fun

to wear.

7. What is the hardest part about performing in a show? Getting over the nerves and hoping I

remember my lines.

8. If you could be in any show, and play any role, what would you pick? Why? I would want to

play a role that is creepier, something like Wednesday Addams in “The Addams Family” musical.

I’m actually auditioning for a part like that next month, a character described as a “child terror”.

I think it’s more fun to play the crazier characters.

9. What is your favorite part about dancing? I like learning new dance skills and working on

getting better. I like being up on stage, dancing a routine and the feeling I get when it’s done,

and I know I did well. I just love to dance.

10. What are some of your other hobbies? Drawing and crafts, reading, dancing, listening to music

and photography.

11. What do you think you’ll do after high school? I love the idea of being a Marine Biologist, or

maybe something to do with chemistry. I would also like to start a small side business doing

home design.

12. Walk us through a typical day in the life of Abby Newman. On a typical day I wake up for

school, check the temp and get dressed and ready to go. If I have extra time before we leave I

usually listen to music on my phone. My dad usually takes me and my older brother to school.

Sometimes when we get there I’ll help my dad get his class ready, then head to my own classes.

I make it through my day and talk to my friends between classes. After school I either stay and

go home with my dad or my mom will pick me up. When I go home I take care of my chores and

sometimes go hangout with my friends. Depending on the night I also go to dance class for

United All Stars, play practices, 4H, faith classes or spend time on any of my hobbies.


Kinley Walker

1. Parents: Ashley Utley & Leighton Walker

2. School & Grade: 6th Grade at the Fort Dodge Middle School

3. Hometown: Fort Dodge

4. What do you enjoy about dancing?

I love that there are different styles of dance. Hip-Hop is my favorite style because I can have fun on stage and show all my sass. Lyrical is my second favorite because I’m able to use my body to tell a story. I also enjoy that regardless of how my day has went, when I get to dance, I can forget about all the bad. There’s a lot that I enjoy about dance that I could talk about!

5. What is the most challenging part of dancing?

This year I tried Pointe for the first time. I have found this to be the most challenging because I have to support all of my body weight on the tip of my feet.

Also, when learning new skills, you have to strengthen different parts of your body so that you can do it. Sometimes it feels like I’m asking my body to do something that seems impossible.

6. How are you involved in the arts? In both school and the community? Are you involved in art, music or theatre? What do you like about it?

I’m involved in my school choir and have also participated in three musicals in the community. I was in The Little Mermaid Jr., The Elf, & Shrek. I will also be taking part in the upcoming musical Madagascar with Stage Door Productions! I like that I am able to meet new friends and watch the older kids & adults. My favorite part is of course the dancing. Musical theatre is another style of dance that’s a lot of fun!

7. What is your proudest accomplishment?

My proudest accomplishment is my increase in confidence. I just finished my third year of dance, and feel like over these last three years I truly believe in myself and what I can accomplish. I am also very proud that I am able to be a Jr Coach at United All Stars. This year I was able to help coach 6 different teams of little ones. Knowing that I am able to be a positive role model for these kids makes me happy.

I love working with the younger kids!

8. Who do you look up to? I have so many people that I look up to for different reasons. I want to talk about Laila Taylor & I know this won’t come as a surprise to anyone. Laila is there for me in and out of the gym/studio. She gives me pep talks and helps me with my fast costume changes. She asked me to do a duet this year for her senior year, and I loved every second of dancing on stage with her. Laila also helps me with my tumbling tricks that I can incorporate into my dance routines.

Other are…Ella Sells, Reese Pederson, Samantha Smith and of course, Coach Emily Eastwood! I love all of you!

9. What do you see yourself doing in 25 years?

In 25 years, I’d love to have either my own salon or dance studio with a few friends.

10. If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you pick? The Bahamas or somewhere warm & sunny!

11. Walk us through a day in the life of Kinley.

After a 7hr day at school, I spend 4-5 hours at the dance studio between coaching, ballet, team classes and/or private dance and tumbling lessons. It can be a lot, but I love being at a United.

Abby Fridolfson

Age: 17

Grade/School: Junior, Fort Dodge Senior High

Hometown: Fort Dodge, IA

  1. What Do you most enjoy about creating art? Being able to overcome difficulties within my art.
  2. What is your favorite medium to use? Oil paint.
  3. Is your family artistic? If so, in what ways? No.
  4. In what ways will you use your artistic abilities after high school? I hope to go to a college for art so that i can study it. I would like to learn new things about art and how to manipulate it.
  5. Who inspires you and why? My art teacher, Deidra Miller-Clay, because I love the way she manipulates the materials that she uses when she creates art.
  6. If you could see, in person, one famous piece of artwork anywhere in the world, which piece would you want to see and why? David of Michelangelo, because I think that is fascinating to look at, and I would also go to paint his statues
  7. What is your favorite part about art class? Being able to experiment with different mediums, and getting to learn new things about art.

Emma Bardwin

1. Age: 17

2. Grade/School: Saint Edmond Catholic High School

3. Hometown: Fort Dodge, Iowa

4. Artistic Interests: Definitely scratching around in my sketchbook, and recently also watercolor landscapes! Additionally, I love drawing pencil portraits and have taken ceramics classes. 

5. How long have you been interested in art? 

I have been interested in art since I was little. I always loved doodling and I remember flipping over coloring pages to trace the on the back. Art has always just been something I do, like walking or breathing. 

6. What do you most enjoy about creating art?

I most enjoy the focus. I can’t take my eyes off the paper when I’m painting thin lines or trying to get things just right. 

7. Do you come from an artistic family?

Nobody in my family is very involved in the fine arts but I would say my mom is pretty crafty. Even though none of the members of my family are super artistic, they have always supported me.

8. What is the most difficult, or challenging, part for you when creating a new piece?

The most difficult or challenging part for me when creating a new piece is blank page anxiety. I feel just a little nervous right before my pencil marks the paper, I am always able to get over this though. 

9. What is the most rewarding part of the artistic process?

The most rewarding part is stepping back to look at the final piece. I love seeing my hard work pay off. 

10. Do you plan to use your artistic schools after high school? If so, in what ways?

Yes, I plan on going to school for art and am aiming to get my masters. I would love to freelance for people as well and have dreams of doing art shows in a gallery someday.


11. Who inspires you and why?

Someone who inspires me is the artist Keith Haring. While he was alive he made political statements and battled prejudice through his art. He impacted many people’s lives and I love seeing his work. 

12. Walk us through a typical day in the life of Emma Barwin. 

A typical day in my life stars with waking up and checking my phone. I usually get up around 6 and try to do yoga before I start my day. I then pack up my stuff and drive to school. When I get to school I occasionally have to drop a project off in the art room if I took it home to work. I have my morning classes and then Independent Art Study fourth period, this is where I create a lot of my pieces. When school is over I go home and get ready for work or tennis practice. I like days where I have free time because I can draw and read. After all of my activities I eat dinner with my family and go to bed. 

13. What are your plans after high school?

I plan on studying art in college and making money through my work as an adult. 

Grace Champagne

Age: 20

Year and High School graduated from: Fort Dodge Senior High, 2020

Current school and major: Third year student majoring in English-Creative Writing at The

University of Iowa 

1. Tell us about some of your cultural experiences growing up in Fort Dodge. (These

would be any plays, musicals, singing, dancing, speech)

My involvements in high school play a huge part in where I am now— I am so grateful

for the opportunities afforded to me. I was basically in everything 

musical or theater-related that I could be: fall play, spring musical, choir, band, etc.

Speech was my favorite thing that I was involved in. Mrs. Krug shaped my confidence in

so many ways. My love for poetry can be completely attributed to watching my peers

recite at competitions. 

2. We’d like to hear more about your Creative Writing/English program. What has

been the most challenging and what has been the most enjoyable part of your

college writing experience?

I’ve had an amazing time at The University of Iowa, but the hardest part was hands

down starting school during covid. College is such a drastic change from living at home

with your parents and being isolated during that time can be really painful. I felt so

distant from my professors and classmates. Luckily, my sophomore year I began editing

at an on-campus magazine called FOOLS, which totally shifted how I viewed my major. I

got to throw myself in editing, which ultimately shaped my desire to go into publishing.

FOOLS has 100% been my favorite part.

3. What are the biggest benefits for a child growing up in Fort Dodge that is involved

in theatre and the arts, from your perspective?

Creativity is honestly everything. I think creativity seeps into the most enjoyable parts of

most people’s lives, whether it’s reading, listening to music, art, etc. My involvements in

Fort Dodge theater fostered my creativity to the extent of me wanting to build a career

around it. I think parents who want their children to have an outlet for curiosity and

imagination should absolutely involve them in the arts.

4. Where will Grace Champagne be in 25 years? And what will she be doing?

Oh man, what a question. She’ll be in a city, somewhere, I’m sure. I’ve always wanted to

move to the city. And she’ll be writing— undoubtedly, she’ll be writing. I think a lot of

people view being an English major as impractical. And it’s true, I could end up doing

something entirely different. But I know I’ll never stop writing.

5. Who are some of your role models?

My mother, my father. My grandmother. My sister. My best friend, Alaina. My partner,

Simon. Joan Didion, Mary Oliver, Toni Morrison, Michelle Obama.

6. You get to meet some famous, alive or dead, for dinner. Who would you choose,

why and what would you like to chat about?

I think my great grandmother, Eileen, whom I never got to meet. She was an English

teacher, and the mother to one of my favorite people, my grandma Liz. She really valued

education— she had her master’s degree which was super impressive for the time. I

would ask her about her life, her wisdom, and her experiences as a woman.

7. What is your favorite book of all time and why?

This is like asking a mother her favorite child! The more I read, the more it changes. I

read Mary Oliver’s Devotions a few summers ago and it completely shaped my writing,

so that’s a solid answer for now.

Creighton Urban

Age: 17 years old

Grade/School: 11- Southeast Valley

Hometown: Callender, Iowa

1. What activities and/or community groups are you involved in?

Some of the activities I am in are musical, play, choir, jazz choir, band, jazz band, marching band, pep band, large group speech, robotics, student council, and national honor society.

2. What do you most enjoy about being involved in band and choir?

One of the biggest reasons I like band and choir is because it puts me around people who have the same musical interests as me. These people have gone on to be some of my best friends. Band and choir have also provided me with many opportunities to improve on my musical skills, as well as help other students grow theirs. Being involved in band and choir have also provided me with outside experiences, such as this coming summer, I will be headed to Europe to perform for two weeks with the Iowa Ambassadors of Music band. 

3. Do you plan to pursue the arts after high school? If so, in what way?

I do plan to pursue the arts after high school. For a start, I would like to join concert, jazz, pep, and marching band in college, and would also like to sing with a choir. I would also like to keep playing/performing in my church and throughout my community. Further down the road, I am considering majoring in music education. 

4. How do you think the arts will be in your life 25 years from now?

Hopefully, I would like to be directing a band or choir in a high school or college. Again, I still would like to be performing in churches and throughout my community. If I do end up teaching at a high school, I would also like to help direct the school’s musical and/or play. 

5. What are some of your accomplishments?

Musically, I have been selected as my school’s drum major this year. I have also been awarded the outstanding soloist award at the Triton Jazz Festival. I have been selected for numerous honor bands throughout the years, I have auditioned for the All-State band for the past three years, and have been awarded multiple Division I ratings for my solo in the solo/ensemble contest. I have also performed in the school’s musical for the past three years, this year being the role of George Banks in Mary Poppins. I have done the spring play for the last two years, and in last year’s play I had the lead role of François LaRoache in the play “Château La Roach.” I participate in an improv team in our school’s large group speech program. My team has gone on to the state competition after receiving 1 ratings at the district level. I am one of the captains for my school’s robotics team, and last year, our team went on to the state level. This year’s season is currently ongoing, and we hope to make it to the state level again. This year, I have also been nominated as a Dean’s List semi-finalist in the state for robotics. 

6. What is your earliest musical memory?

My earliest musical memory would have to be back in elementary school. We learned how to play recorders. Alongside the recorders, we also played with boomwhackers, which helped us learn rhythm, and the very basis of harmony. 

7. Talk us through a typical day in the life of Creighton Urban.

A typical day for me would start with jazz band, jazz choir, or student council. After this, I go throughout my school day, spending any free time I have working on the robot in the robotics lab. Every day, my final class is band and choir, doing about 45 minutes of each. After school, I either have more robotics practice or speech practice. Depending on the day of the week and time of the year I either have jazz band practice, play or musical rehearsal, or we perform pep band or marching band. On top of all of this, I still manage to squeeze in time for individual instrument practice. 

Zach Midtling

Age: 17

Grade/School: 11 - St. Edmond Catholic School

Hometown: Fort Dodge

1. Tell us about some of the cultural experiences you have had growing up in Fort Dodge.

I always love seeing shows being put on by Comedia or Stage Door Productions etc. because they have a little bit of the whole town there and they have this stage chemistry even though some people don’t even know the person next to them.

2. What is your earliest memory performing?

Performing at the Webster City Middle School auditorium in Kindergarten.

3. What do you most enjoy about performing?

I enjoy being able to express my true self through music when I perform.

4. Are you in band and choir? If so, what part or instrument do you play or sing?

I am a tenor in choir and I play the trombone in Band.

5. You’re stranded on a deserted island. What 3 things do you bring?

I would bring a sword to retrieve food and for defense. I would also bring my trombone for entertainment and I need the practice anyway. The last thing I would bring is a journal so I don’t go insane with my thoughts.

6. What do you want to do after high school?

I would like to major in Music education (preferably choir).

7. Who are some of your role models and why?

Ryan Swedean helps me become a better performer and Jacque Batz inspires me through tough and stressful times, whether it be in music or real life, that it will all be fine.

8. What other activities do you participate in at St. Ed’s?

I participate in The Student Ambassador program, Musical, Jazz Band, Show Choir, Chamber Choir, All-State Music, UNI Festival of Bands, Individual Speech, Large Group Speech, Solo/Small ensemble, Quiz Bowl, Honor Society.

10. Walk us through a typical day in the life of Zach Midtling.

I wake up at 6 each morning to go to either Jazz Band or Show Choir, depending on the day. I then go through a normal school day. After school, I go home and relax or do

homework depending on what I have. I usually have an evening practice of some kind or I help at some other school events. Then, I sleep and do it all over again.

Owen Obrien

1. Name: Owen Obrien

2. Age: 18

3. Hometown: Fort Dodge

4. Area of Artistic Interest: Music, Songwriting, Sound Production

5. In what ways were you exposed to art and culture as a child? I was first exposed to music because of my Grandfather, Tracy Ernst. In fact, he was the one that made me become passionate about music in the first place. So my main exposure to music was through him showing me all kinds of music, and watching him play live shows when I was growing up. I owe it all to him.

6. How did you learn to play bass? What other instruments do you play? I learned how to play bass about 5 years ago. When I began, I pretty much just learned the instrument via several YouTube videos, and trying my best to learn difficult basslines. I definitely tried to go way over my skill level when it came to learning techniques but, I think it worked out. Trying to learn hard songs made me more determined. I also play drums and guitar, but bass is definitely my main focus.

7. What do you most enjoy about being a musician? Being a musician, I think, is one of the greatest feelings you could have. Creating music, learning music, playing live shows, I mean it almost gives you this euphoric feeling.

Being a musician means you express your creativity and emotions in a way that anyone can hear it, whether it be through an instrument, or your voice. It’s incredible.

8. Tell us about the gig you’ve played that has left the biggest impression? The gig that’s left the biggest impression? Hm. For me, Honestly it was quite recent. The band I’m in, Aka The Tank Anthony Band, recently played at the downtown country jam, which is an event put on by shellabration. I have to say, playing that show, with the

amazing musicians and people I play with made me feel on top of the world in that moment.

9. What inspires you? What inspires me? Creative people. People that want to inspire the world through their art. The thing I love about music, or art, is that they can bring all people, from any ethnicity or believe system, together. Not many things can do that. I find that inspiring.

10. What are your plans after Iowa Central Community College? After Iowa Central, It’s been my dream for a while to go to the Berklee College of Music. The things they offer there, I mean it would perfect for a career in the music scene. Plus, the music scene in general around Boston, is quite nice. 

11. What is something you’d like us to know about you? Something I’d like the people to know about me? I’m not sure at this point besides what I’ve mentioned. I can make a mean packet of Ramen I suppose. hahah

12. Favorite Musician & Why? Favorite artist/musicianHonestly, I would say Victor Wooten. He’s not only an incredible bass player and composer, but he also is a very inspiring and wise person, and finds ways to relate music analogies to everyday life. He’s like.. the Yoda of Bass

13. Favorite Food? Favorite food? What a way to end! haha. I’d say a good chicken wing would do the job.

Addie Schulte

  1. Name: Addie Schulte
  2. Age: 17
  3. Hometown: Fort Dodge
  4. School/Grade: Senior at Saint Edmond Catholic School
  5. Artistic Outlets: My artistic outlets are mainly through my involvement at school. Show choir is one of my biggest artistic outlets because I love expressing myself on stage through dancing and singing. I cannot wait for later in the season when we get to start performing; the thrill of being on stage exhilarates me. Cheer is another one of my favorite artistic outlets that allows me to express myself and display my positive personality. I’m so excited for this year’s competition cheer season where we perform in state cheerleading and for basketball cheerleading (my favorite season!)
  6. What activities are you involved with at school and in the community? My fine arts involvements at St. Edmond have included Gaelic choir, Concert choir, Chamber choir, Show choir, All-Iowa Show choir, musical, Showcase, and small group speech. My other involvements have included football cheerleading, competition cheerleading, basketball cheerleading, cross country, cross country manager, and Play like a Champion. I have also been involved in leadership positions such as Gaelic choir President, Concert choir President, student body Secretary, Student Ambassador, and cheerleading captain. In the community, I stay involved by lecturing and eucharistic ministering at weekend masses at Holy Trinity Parish. 
  7. What is your first memory of experiencing music for the first time? My first memory of experiencing music was my first year at the McSweeny’s School of Arts children’s chorus. My best friend at the time was super into the choral arts and she introduced me to the group. I remember loving practices and feeling so excited about the music we were making. I never knew what my voice was capable of. When our first concert came around, I just felt so comfortable on stage. I knew that this would not be my last time on stage. 
  8. Walk us through a typical school day for you. I wake up around 6:00 A.M. most mornings so I can be at school for Show choir practice that starts at 7:00 A.M. On the days I don’t have show choir, I’ll enjoy my morning by getting a workout in or enjoying an extra thirty minutes of sleep. My school day is packed full of classes. My favorite class is Service where I get to help out in Mrs. Lennon’s three-year-old preschool room. You can often catch me working on one of my four Iowa Central college classes in the library during the school day. At the conclusion of the school day, I head to work at the Saint Edmond After School program. I work there every day after school from 3:00-5:00 P.M. in the preschool through kindergarten room. After work, I head home to work on homework and eat supper with my family before heading to cheer practice, to babysit, to cheer a football or basketball game, to chamber choir practice, or to one of my many other involvements. 
  9. If you could play any role, who would you want to play, and why?If I could play any role, I would want to play Penny Pingleton from Hairspray. I grew up loving the movie and musical Hairspray. It was my sister and I’s favorite movie for a while so we watched it on repeat. I love all of the songs in Hairspray and I would just adore being in the scenes of a movie that I grew up loving. I also love the combined aspect of singing and dancing in the movie which is probably why I enjoy show choir so much. 
  10. What are your plans after high school? After high school, I plan on attending a college out of state to study kinesiology with a pre-physical therapy emphasis. I am currently undecided about which university I will study at. I will continue college after my undergraduate degree in a physical therapy program to fulfill my dream of becoming a pediatric physical therapist. 
  11. In what ways will the arts and culture be a part of your life in 30 years?In 30 years, I hope that I will have instilled my love for the musical arts in my children. I want to give them all of the extraordinary experiences that I had growing up from a children’s chorus to private voice lessons to being in junior musicals. The arts gifted me with so much joy and passion and I hope to instill that into my children someday. 
  12. What makes you happiest?The people I surround myself with are my most predominant source of joy. This includes my family and my close circle of friends. Children are one of my other main sources of happiness. I love each and every one of my SEAS children and all of the children I babysit for. These children are oftentimes the highlight of my day and they always can bring a smile to my face. I also have to mention that ice cream sure does make me happy :)
  13. What, or who, inspires you? My parents have always been a big inspiration for me. They’ve been my most significant role models and supporters. I wouldn’t be the successful young lady I am today without them. My dreams for the future also inspire me. I have lots of challenging goals for myself and striving to achieve them motivates me to do many things. My old vocal teacher, Mr. Ben Wegner, has also had such an impact on me. He inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and bolstered my vocal growth. He had an influential role in shaping me into the musician I am today. 

Nicole Canty

1. Name: Nicole Canty

2. Age: 4

3. Grade/School: Homeschool

4. Hometown: Webster City, Iowa

5. How old were you when you started painting and what did your paintings

look like? I started painting at 7 months old. They were beautiful!

6. How are your paintings different now? I get to paint them how I want. I can

use paintbrushes and get messy.

7. Is your family artistic? If so, how? My mom can paint and draw. She took

art classes in college. My dad is also very creative.

8. What’s the hardest part about painting and why? Nothing. I just paint.

9. What do you most enjoy about painting? I get to choose and mix colors.

10. What do you want to be when you grow up? An artist. And I’m already an


11. If you could meet any celebrity, who would you meet and why would you

pick them? I want to meet Ryan Kaji. I like his youtube channel and he’s


12. What other activities are you involved in? I go to library events and play

soccer in the Spring. I went to a few of the summer art camps at the

Blanden. I start Classical Conversations in the Fall. Before we moved here,

I played soccer year round. At home, I like to catch bugs and play with my

Jurassic World dinosaurs. I’ve made two dinosaur movies.

August 2022 EVAN PRATT

1. Name: Evan Pratt

2. Age: 17

3. School/Grade: Junior at Fort Dodge Senior High School

4. Hometown: Fort Dodge, Iowa

5. How did you become interested in music and theater?

I was fortunate enough to have older cousins who were very involved in the FDSH Theater Department and I always enjoyed watching them perform. So, when I had the opportunity to go out for theater and perform for audiences, I took it.

6. What, or who, inspired you to teach yourself guitar?

The older I got, the more interested in music I got. I always thought the guitar was cool. About 2 years ago, I just decided I wanted to finally learn. My uncle plays guitar and he was self-taught, so I told him if he found a used guitar for me to let me know. I finally bought an acoustic guitar and then covid hit. So, my only option was to figure it out by reading music and playing until things sounded right. I finally figured it out after lots of practice.

7. How many original tunes have you written, and, what do you most enjoy about writing your own songs?

I have written 12 full songs. I am actively working on about 4. I really enjoy being able to tell my own stories with nothing holding me down but my imagination.

8. What theater productions have you been involved in?

I was involved in The Wizard of Oz and King Artie and the Knights of the Rad Table in middle school and have been involved in While the Lights Were Out and Footloose in high school. I recently performed in a community theater show under the direction of Mrs. Krug called Johnny Brooke: A Ghost Story.

9. What is the most challenging part for you when it comes to performing?

The most challenging part for me might be memorization. I can go up on a stage and perform with no problem as far as nerves since performing is one

of my favorite things to do. I will always be nervous about forgetting a line or lyric though.

10. Do you come from an artistic family? If so, in what ways?

Considering the definition of Art from person to person is rather subjective, anyone could come from an artistic family. Most of my cousins have been in theater and I have an uncle who is an incredible artist, graphic designer and painter. Performing and creating are the two major definitions of art, so those are my prime examples.

11. Where can we hear your perform?

I am working on getting a date set up for an opening performance at Shiny Top Brewing. After that I would love to set up some more live shows. In the meantime, you can find my music on any streaming service.

12. Will music and the arts be a part of your life in 25 years? If so, how?

As long as I have a guitar or a pencil, I will always be drawing or picking my 6 string. Drawing, playing and singing are all such a big part of my life at this point that I truly couldn’t see a future without them.

13. What are your plans after high school?

I plan on going to Iowa Central Community College for 2 years and I would love to be involved in their theater and music programs.

14. Who do you look up to and why?

Naming one person isn’t easy. I am fortunate enough to have many influences in my life for every part of it. Obviously I look up to my parents a lot, but I would say some of the people I look up to the most musically would be Zach Bryan, Evan Felker, Eddie Van Halen, Bob Dylan and Brian Wilson to name a few.

15. You have 2 tickets to go to any live concert. The band/performer can be any, living or deceased. Who would you choose to see, who would you take and why?

Well, that’s a hard question to answer. I think that it would be between seeing the Eagles in their prime and Van Halen. I think at the end of the day, I would choose Van Halen because seeing Eddie just solo for ten minutes straight would be absolutely incredible. As for who I’d take, that is even hard to answer. Although my parents both love music, and I have been to

multiple concerts with them, when it comes to Eddie, I gotta pick my Uncle Russ. 

July 2022 Lea Chau Chiaco

1. Name: Lea Chua Chiaco

2. Age: 7

3. Grade – Fall 2022 & School: 2nd Grade in St. Edmond Catholic School

4. Hometown: Fort Dodge

5. Instrument: Violin

6. Violin Instructor: Melissa Gillette is my violin instructor.

7. When did you first become interested in learning music? At age 4, I started learning to play the violin. I also began voice lessons with Mrs. MaryAnn McSweeney last summer of 2021.

8. Do you have a musical family? My grandpa and brother play the violin and piano. My dad used to play the euphonium.

9. What do you think about while performing? I mostly try to focus on my violin. I check my that my bow is straight and my fingers look good.

10. Do you get nervous on stage? If so, how do you overcome your nerves? I do not get too nervous because I have been on stage a lot of times. When I do get nervous, I try not to look at anyone and just look at my fingers and my violin.

11. What do you most enjoy about playing in front of other people? And why? I get to show people how I am improving at playing the violin. I practice a lot at home, so it is fun to play in front of other people too. They get surprised when they hear me play because I am very little.

12. What’s the hardest part about playing in front of other people? And why? Sometimes, when there are a lot of people, then I feel like there are way too many eyes on me. I cannot see my mom or dad, so I try to just focus on my violin.

13. What are some of your other hobbies? I love to sing and dance. I like to read books about animals and Junie B. Jones. I also love to go swimming, and hangout with my friends.