2018 YAGP Results for KCBS

2018 YAGP: KCBS students and Racheal Nye prepare for their pieces.
2018 YAGP: KCBS students and Racheal Nye prepare for their pieces.

This past weekend (March 1-4, 2018) Kansas City’s Folly Theater was teeming with tutus. It was the first time Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) had held a Regional Semi-Final in Kansas City. It appears to be a success.

More than 300 students from all over the city, region and country competed.

Just how did KCBS stack up against the competition? Pretty well.


2018 YAGP: KCBS students on stage.
2018 YAGP: KCBS students on stage.

For the second year in a row, KCBS received the “Outstanding School Award”. Last year it was at the competition in Indianapolis. “It felt good to get it here at home. There were several schools in the running, so it wasn’t something we expected to get but we are thrilled and honored,” Holmes said.

Also of special note, Kansas City Ballet School student, Aurora Wessel (11), won the “Hope Award”. This is an award that YAGP doesn’t always give out. It is intended as a special honor for the student who exceeds in both contemporary and classical competition. It’s more prestigious than simply winning first place. Aurora placed in the Top 12 for both Contemporary and Classical dance categories in the Pre-Competitive Age Division.

The overall number of pieces performed by category by all participating schools: Pre-competitive Category (66 pieces), Junior Category (196 pieces), Pas de Deux (14 pieces; 7 were from KCBS), Ensembles (30 pieces), Senior Classical (122 pieces) and Senior Contemporary (76 pieces).


“Many of the visiting schools and the judges were pleasantly surprised at how wonderful Kansas City is and how well the arts are supported here,” Kansas City Ballet School Director Grace Holmes said. “I was surprised at how many schools locally and regionally came to KC to participate.”

It’s no secret that Kansas City is conveniently situated in the heart of the country making it an easy drive from many states or a great place for air travel. And as a new YAGP venue, there was a lot of excitement specifically because of the “unknowns”. A little unpredictability can have advantages, so in this competition it’s not a bad thing to compete in a new location.

2018 YAGP: KCBS students prepare for their pieces.
2018 YAGP: KCBS students prepare for their pieces.

Kansas City Ballet School students really made an impression according to KCBS YAGP Coordinator Racheal Nye, “I received such positive feedback from other schools’ students and parents about the kindness of our KCBS students towards others, and that is something I’m incredibly proud of. Our kids were wonderful ambassadors for our school.”


“I am so happy with the work that all of our coaches and teachers put into preparations for this competition. At first I was not sure about having our students participate in a competition. But Racheal changed my mind about that when she brought a small group to YAGP two years ago. The reason we now do YAGP is because of Racheal. She had the vision that in participating in YAGP, our students could expand their already intense dance education by working through the process of learning, refining and performing these solos. And on top of coaching, she single-handedly did all the administration and scheduling, not to mention costumes, makeup demonstrations and took care of so many other details,” says Holmes. Her dedication certainly paid off. See the list of KCBS accomplishments for the 2018 YAGP Regional Semi-Finals below.

Holmes would like to thank Kansas City Ballet Artistic Director Devon Carney and Kansas City Ballet Executive Director Jeffrey J. Bentley for supporting KCBS in its YAGP efforts. “It’s always a huge undertaking for the school and it puts strain on the organization to have this many kids participate. So, I appreciate them taking a leap of faith on us,” Holmes says.


Invitations to attend the 2018 YAGP Finals will go out soon. The Finals will be held in New York City on April 19 at Lincoln Center.


Special Awards

Outstanding School: Kansas City Ballet School


1st Place Pas de Deux Category

2nd Place Ensemble: Coda from Esmeralda (Racheal Nye)


Pre-Competetive Category

Hope Award: Aurora Wessel (11)


Pre-Competitive Contemporary

Top 12: Penelope Guezuraga (11)


Pre-Competitive Classical

3rd Place: Penelope Guezuraga (11)

Top 12: Kathryn Benson (11)



Junior Classical Women

1st Place: Poppy Trettel (12)

3rd Place: Melody Sasser (14)

Top 12: Addison Diaz (14), Mia Porter (12)


Junior Classical Men

2nd Place: Grady George (13)


Junior Contemporary

Top 12: Poppy Trettel (12)



Senior Classical

Top 12: Camryn Potts (17), Grace Reed (18), Hope Wampler (16), Timothy TV Cao (15)

Senior Contemporary

Top 12: Camryn Potts (17), Mina-Vasiliya Stoyanova (17), Timothy TV Cao (15)


Read previous post about the 2018 YAGP competition?



Interested in learning more about the 2017 YAGP competition?




Learn more about YAGP Coordinator Racheal Nye:



KC Hosts Youth American Grand Prix

Thirty-seven Kansas City Ballet School students are registered to perform 63 entries at the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) Semi-finals in Kansas City March 1-4, 2018. The number has grown each of the last three years that KCBS has started organizing students to compete.

KCBS Principal and YAGP Coordinator Racheal Nye oversees the program for KCBS. “I like the idea of having an end goal all year. It motivates students. Ballet training is the long game and it can be hard to find new ways to motivate yourself to give 150% in every class. But with something like YAGP, there are smaller goals along the way that help motivate my students to continue pushing themselves. They work on these concepts of their performance and bring them into their classwork as well. It changes the way they take class and it opens them up to how lessons fit into the bigger picture.”


Right now Nye and the other coaches are focusing on stamina—running the pieces until the dancers are comfortable. She likens it a bit to the Olympics. “We’re working on last minute polishes like nuances, artistry, and presentation. We’re making sure costumes and headpieces fit and conducting stage make up tutorials.”

With the competition happening here at home, the sheer number of KCBS students and ballet coaches are the highest they’ve been. Besides the chance to perform for a panel of accomplished judges, students have the opportunity to take master classes in ballet and dance from them as well. They also get to meet kids, like them, from all over who are passionate about ballet. And, of the 10,000 students around the US and the world competing at Semi-finals, only about 1,000 will be invited to the Finals in New York City in April. KCBS is hoping to again have students selected.


Poppy Trettel (11) and Grady George (12) in Bluebird Pas De Deux from The Sleeping Beauty. First Place winners in Pas De Deux YAGP 2017 Indianapolis, IN

This year’s KC Semi-finals performances will be held at The Folly Theater, downtown and Kansas City Ballet School is the location for master classes. The latter is very exciting to Grace Holmes, KCBS School’s director: “These master classes bring kids into our facility that have likely never been here before. The Bolender Center is a world-class facility for dance, so that’s a great thing. An added benefit is that the students may have a chance to observe our Kansas City Ballet company dancers at work in rehearsals. These YAGP students are often the most talented students at their own schools, having them in our ‘home’ gives us a chance to woo them with all we have to offer in the way of our Summer Intensive and Trainee programs.”

Nye says: “This year it’s definitely a draw to be here in KC, our students will dance in performances from classical or contemporary solos, to classical or contemporary Pas de Deux (dance for two), to small or large ensembles. It’s a lot to coordinate and it starts in the fall.”

Nye manages a lot of details for the competition including making sure everyone is registered, assisting with music selection and editing, advising on costume selection, providing makeup tutorials, arranging coaches, and providing schedules the week of the competition.

“Once YAGP publishes the order of the performances, I sit down and create schedules for all of my students of where they need to be and when,” Nye says. “It’s time consuming, but it becomes our bible during those four days.”

When asked to describe what it’s like during the competition, Nye says: “It’s hectic and busy and crowded. You kind of feel rushed and then at other times you’re just waiting around. It’s 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. each day for me. I’ll be rehearsing kids and getting them to the stage and assisting with makeup or costume issues all day. I’m grateful when a parent hands me a sandwich or a coffee… otherwise I’d never know what time it was. The 12 hours goes by really fast for me.”

This year, since the competition happens locally, more students and coaches are able to participate without travel costs.


2018 KCBS Coaches: Dmitry Trubchanov, David Justin, Pamela Carney, Molly Wagner, Dillon Malinski, Sean Duus, Taryn Layne-Mulhern, Racheal Nye, Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye, and Gustavo Ribeiro. Several of these coaches also choreographed solos and ensembles especially for KCBS students. Ribeiro choreographed one solo. Justin choreographed three solos and a pas de deux. And, Joliecoeur-Nye choreographed a whopping 14 solos, one pas de deux, and one ensemble piece.

Holmes says: “I’m really excited to see the progress the students have made with different coaches. It will be interesting to see their influences. Every teacher provides something new, different strengths, different critiques… all working together to achieve better technique, musicality and artistry.”

The students, coaches, and parents have invested so much time and energy preparing for the Semi-finals. It’s time for the fun to begin with performances, master classes and meeting the other participating students from all over. In addition to these incredible experiences, each student receives a written evaluation of his/her performance(s) offering constructive critiques for ways to improve from the judges. Nye will read all of these evaluations to determine if they offer broader ways to improve class goals for the coming year. In this way everyone benefits from the process.

What drives Nye to take on so many students for this annual competition? “I like coaching,” Nye says. “And I REALLY like classical ballet! I enjoy providing the students with so much individual attention because ultimately it really helps their confidence.”


If you’d like to attend the performances for the competition at The Folly, tickets will be available at the door for $10 for each day. You can also support the students and the school by leaving a comment on this post.


Interested in learning more about the 2017 YAGP competition?




Learn more about YAGP Coordinator Racheal Nye:



2018 Summer Programs Enrolling Now

2018 KCBS Summer Programs Brochure Cover. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.
2018 KCBS Summer Programs Brochure Cover. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

Enrollment has already begun for Kansas City Ballet School’s wide array of classes and camps for kids ages 2-18.

Summer is a great time to try ballet. The classes are 4 or 6-week sessions that meet 1-2 times a week. It’s a nice sample of what the fall and winter semesters bring. Summer camps meet four times in one week, with a performance during the final 15 minutes of class on the last day. Camp themes include Little Mermaid, Fairy Princess or Super Hero. Additional courses and workshops are available for ages 8-18.

“Our summer programs are a great way for children to spend the summer – physical and artistic activity combined,” KCB School Director Grace Holmes says. “Students who already dance can maintain and enhance their training, and those who  have never danced before can try something new.”

If your child is interested in ballet, this is the chance to try it!


Click here to learn more about the offerings.


2018 Summer Intensive Auditions Begin

With temperatures stuck below freezing in KC, what better time to begin auditions for Kansas City Ballet School’s 2018 Summer Intensive program. Nothing shakes off the chill like gearing up for summer!


Admission to Kansas City Ballet School Summer Intensive is by audition only. The five-week program is for students 11-22 years of age (females who have had a minimum of one school year of pointe work). Auditions kick off this Friday, Jan. 5 in Chicago and continue to 23 other cities throughout January and into February. Here is the complete list. KCBS will host two auditions: the first is on Saturday, Jan. 13 and the the second on Saturday, Feb. 24—the final audition.

Students unable to attend one of these may submit a video audition by Feb. 14 or try to schedule an appointment audition at KCBS.


Pre-registration fees are $30 in advance—these close the Wednesday prior to the audition. On-site registration fees are $40. In addition to fees, students will need to:

  1. Complete online Audition Form
  2. Attach photos to online Audition Form or bring to audition (4×6, with student’s name on the back)
    • Headshot (females with hair up)
    • First arabesque (females on pointe).


For more information about auditioning for Kansas City Ballet’s Summer Intensive, contact Kansas City Ballet School at 816.931.2299 or school@kcballet.org.

Student Profile: Olivia Denson

KCB School Student Olivia Denson. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.Olivia Denson started dance classes at age 2 ½. She learned ballet, jazz, tap and gymnastics but she really loved the ballet. At age 7 it was clear she was smitten, so her parents decided to send her to Kansas City Ballet School’s Johnson County campus. “Coming here was amazing! It was a BIG change,” says Olivia. “Shortly after I switched schools, my old school shut down. So I was really, really glad to be here.”

When asked why she is drawn to ballet, Olivia admits, “I love the discipline. Ballet has so many rules and I love rules. And it just felt natural and the other [dance styles] didn’t feel natural. I love structure and repetition—it’s meditative in a way.”

KCB School Student Olivia Denson. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.What she loves about KCBS

When asked what she likes most about KCBS, she has trouble picking just one thing: “One of the main things I love is the building. Huge studios and natural light. We are so lucky! I have different teachers each day of the week so I get many different perspectives during the week. I love the teachers at KCBS so much. And I love that we have the opportunity to dance in professional shows.”

Olivia has been part of several KCB Company productions including Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, and seven years of The Nutcracker. “I was so excited when I was asked to dance in the ‘Garland Waltz’ in The Sleeping Beauty last season,” Olivia says. “I actually got a role that was mostly given to Trainees. It was a great experience—a big deal. I enjoyed getting to know the Trainees and ask their advice.”

As part of her preparation, Olivia also has been part of Kansas City Youth Ballet, directed by Kimberly Cowen. She likes the company feeling that being part of KCYB brings. Along with the corps work and the fact that they also get to dance contemporary works, working directly with choreographers, especially the company members like Molly Wagner and Charles Martin, makes KCYB a very worthy experience.

Lots of Support

Tuition can be expensive, and for a budding dancer spending your summers in intense training is important. “For my first two Summer Intensives we did a silent auction with our family and friends,” Olivia says. “Family and friends donated items and services—like our dentist donated an electric toothbrush or a teeth whitening package. It seemed like everyone wanted to help however they could. We raised around $2,000 each year to help pay for my SI program. These same folks buy tickets to watch me perform as part of KCYB as well. I’m lucky to have so much support.”

KCB School Student Olivia Denson. Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.A Dream of Dancing

Her dream started years ago at a Kansas City Ballet performance. “I love watching the professional company shows. And once I saw Miss Kim [Kimberly Cowen] dance, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I once asked her to sign my ticket to one of her last performances.”

She knows she wants to become a professional dancer someday. She says, “That’s the coolest job! I would love to stay here as part of KCB. I love KC and we just have such great facilities here. I’ve been to other places and I just feel like we are so lucky here.”



All photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.

New KCB School Daytime Program Draws International Attention

2017 KCBS Daytime Program Students. Photo by Grace Holmes.
2017 KCBS Daytime Program Students. Photo by Grace Holmes.


Kansas City Ballet School (KCBS) is raising its international profile with the enrollment of three Bulgarian students in its Daytime Program. KCBS’s Daytime Program is in its second year, but already it’s making a name for itself.

In its inaugural year, the program ended with 27 students. Three of those 27, have graduated and been accepted into Second Companies of professional ballet companies or have been invited into prestigious college dance programs. This fall there are 29 as the school year begins. Of those, more than half have returned for their second year. Six decided to join the Daytime Program after attending the recent Summer Intensive in 2017. Three joined from within the KCBS family and four were new to the school entirely. Students in this year’s program represent seven states including: Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, and Texas; and, as mentioned, the country of Bulgaria.

The KCBS Daytime Program

Just what is the Daytime Program? It’s a program for qualifying students who have not only shown promise as dancers, but who are passionate about becoming professional dancers at some point. The program gives students the chance to put dance in the forefront of their days when their energy is at its best. Students are responsible for their own academics, outside of class. Most join an online school program and focus on their studies during breaks, in the evenings and on the weekends.

The youngest participants were 10 when they joined the program last year, making them 11 now. Overall the program allows for 5 to 8 extra hours of training each week. And in addition, many of the students aged 14 and older also participate in Kansas City Youth Ballet (the performing group for the school) and/or the Youth America Grand Prix competition.

“If you have a student enrolled in the Daytime Program, dancing as part of KCYB, and participating in Youth America Grand Prix competition, they are going to be dancing around 33 hours per week. And many of our students are doing just that,” says KCBS Director Grace Holmes. “This program doesn’t take anything away from traditional ballet school training that happens in the evenings and on weekends, but it does give an option that many students and their families are very excited about.”

Drawing Students from Outside KC

Of the Daytime Program students, there are five that moved to KC to participate and at least one of their parents made the move with them. Another five have come on their own without a parent and now live with host families or on their own because they are at least 18. And then you have the three Bulgarians who also live with host families.

Bulgarian KCBS Students: Iren Veleva (15), Simeon Atanasov (16), and Mina Stoyanova (17). Photo by Elizabeth Stehling.
Bulgarian KCBS Students: Iren Veleva (15), Simeon Atanasov (16), and Mina Stoyanova (17). Photo by Elizabeth Stehling.

Mina Stoyanova (17), Iren Veleva (15) and Simeon Atanasov (16) all danced at the same ballet school in Bulgaria. Two years ago UMKC Conservatory of Dance’s Paula Weber (who often guest teaches at KCBS’s Summer Intensive program) was guest teaching at their school in Bulgaria. She identified their talent and encouraged them to attend KCBS’s 2016 Summer Intensive. Mina and Iren came in the summer of 2016. And Mina returned to KC in January of 2017 to begin the program. Iren waited another year since she was younger. Simeon waited to attend the 2017 Summer Intensive at KCBS and he and Iren decided to begin their full-time education here this year.

When asked why they would travel so far for ballet training, the three agreed: “Because the training here is very good. We really like the classes and that we dance all day.” Simeon also mentioned, “I really like that we have a male Russian teacher.”

These students will travel home for holiday breaks and will be tested over academics then. They are learning their basics through text books on their own while in KC.

One thing is certain, the Daytime Program is here to stay. And with it, Kansas City Ballet is closer to fulfilling its mission to be “Always On” with programming happening all day every day the building is open.

KCBS 2017 Summer Intensive Ends

Just five short weeks ago, 181 students arrived from all over the country, the region, the city and even a couple from Bulgaria to be part of Kansas City Ballet School’s 2017 Summer Intensive program. Most will leave more skilled and with more friends than when they began. Summer Intensives are like that, and especially in Kansas City.

While they were here they learned from a wide variety of teachers, as well as from each other. They pushed themselves to new heights. They also learned more about Kansas City through a number of excursions including a visit to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun, attending a 2015 World Series Champion Kansas City Royals game, and more.

Today marked the final day of the program when the students were able to demonstrate what they’ve learned for an audience near and dear to their hearts, their families.

“It is hard to believe that our 2017 Summer Intensive at Kansas City Ballet has come to a close!  What a lovely group of dancers attended this year, and it was pretty amazing to watch the progress that the students made during these 5 weeks,” said KCB School Director Grace Holmes. “Thank you for sharing the summer with us and I hope to see you all again at KCBS!”

Read more about this group and the guest teachers here.

Top and Bottom photos by Andrea Wilson.

KCBS 2017 Junior Summer Intensive Ends

Students perform during the 2017 final demonstration for KCB School’s Junior Summer Intensive program.

The Kansas City Ballet School’s 2017 Junior Summer Intensive that began June 5th wrapped up today with a studio demonstration by the students. Specifically designed with the young dancer in mind, this four-week program offers students ages 9-13 (females who are pre-pointe or beginning pointe students) a rigorous and comprehensive study of ballet technique and exposure to a broad variety of dance styles.  All curriculum is presented in a nurturing and positive environment at Kansas City Ballet School’s Johnson County Campus.

KCB School’s Erin Steeley presents students with achievement certificates during the 2017 Junior Summer Intensive program’s final demonstration.

Students experience a truly unique program working with members of the Kansas City Ballet’s artistic staff, nationally acclaimed guest teachers as well as KCB School faculty. Former Prima Ballerina with Miami City Ballet, Iliana Lopez, and Michele Gifford from New York City Ballet were guest teachers.

On Sunday, June 25th, the students participated in a demonstration by Kansas City Ballet School as part of The Future Stages Festival at the Kauffman Center.

“It was so fun watching the students express their joy of dance at both demonstrations. It was especially inspiring to witness them performing their repertory pieces this afternoon,” said KCB School Director Grace Holmes.

This was the 5th year of the program and 40 students participated.



5 Key Elements of the 2017 Summer Intensive Program

1: todd bolender center for dance & creativity

The student dancers have arrived and the former Union Station Power House has become their new home for the next few weeks. From the moment they first walked in and saw the light fixtures that used to be operating coal shoots, remnants of 103 years of history were evident.

These past six years, Kansas City Ballet has been thrilled to call the Bolender Center home—the Summer Intensive attendees will soon feel the same. With seven studios, including the 180-seat Michael and Ginger Frost Studio Theater, there is plenty of space to enjoy their time here.


2: Dance Faculty

Throughout the five weeks with KCBS, Kansas City Ballet faculty and guest teachers play a significant role in the students’ overall experience. Students are really breaking out of their normal routines and getting exposed to different teaching styles.

Iliana Lopez
2017 Summer Intensive Guest Instructor Iliana Lopez

Guest teaching artists for summer 2017:

Karin Averty, Former Paris Opera Ballet Premiere Danseuse

Laszlo Berdo, Former Boston Ballet Principal Dancer

Tina LeBlanc, Former San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer

Iliana Lopez, Former Miami City Ballet Principal Dancer

Connor Walsh, Houston Ballet Principal Dancer


Kansas City Ballet faculty include:

Devon Carney, KCB Artistic Director

Grace Holmes, School Director

Kristi Capps, Ballet Master

Parrish Maynard, Ballet Master

Anthony Krutzkamp, Second Company Manager

Kimberly Cowen, Upper School Principal and Youth Ballet Director

Sean Duus, Full-Time Faculty

Racheal Nye, Full-Time Faculty

Dmitry Trubchanov, Men’s Program Coordinator

Paula Weber, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Dance Chair

David Justin, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Dance Faculty

Sabrina Madison-Cannon, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Dance Faculty

Tobin James, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Dance Faculty

And all classes during the program will be accompanied by Kansas City Ballet School Pianists and Accompanists.


 3: Meeting Fellow Students

Of the more than 180 students for 2017, more than half stay in the dorms at the Kansas City Art Institute and the University of Missouri—Kansas City. The remaining students are a mix of KCBS students and others from the region and beyond. Many of the program attendees have traveled to the Kansas City Ballet from 33 different states across the country, two even journeyed from Bulgaria. With such a variety of backgrounds but the common thread of ballet, these dancers are sure to connect with each other.


 4: Exploring Kansas City

While visiting Kansas City, there are plenty of exciting attractions for the students to explore in their free time including watching the 2015 World Series Champion Royals play, cheering on the Sporting KC soccer team, attending KC Dance Festival at the historic Folly Theater, taking in a musical outdoors at Starlight Theatre and more. Enthusiasm for true blue KC is sure to take hold.

And last not but least the reason the dancers are here at Kansas City Ballet…


5: Dancing, Dancing, Dancing

Kansas City Ballet’s Summer Intensive will not only help students grow as a dancers, but as people as well. With the warm, passionate atmosphere at the Bolender Center, dedicated dancers will feel at home. From the variety of classes, faculty, and the beautiful facility, the Summer Intensive program will be five weeks well spent. Let’s dance!

Good luck, dancers!

KCBS Competes: 2017 YAGP Finals in NY

Aurora Wessel (10) in Les Sylphide at YAGP Finals in New York 2017.

Kansas City Ballet School recently competed in the Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) Semi-finals in Indianapolis. More than 10,000 students participated in the Semi-finals competitions across the country and around the world this year and only 1,200-1,400 were invited to the New York Finals held April 7-14. Several KCBS students qualified for the YAGP Finals and last Friday, after many, many competitive performances, master classes and auditions, the awards were announced.

Kansas City Ballet School Awards:

Aurora Wessel (age 10) was named one of the Top 12 Pre-Competitve Soloists out of 143 students in her age-bracket (118 girls and 25 boys).

Grady George received a Houston Ballet Scholarship 

Poppy Trettel received a Royal Winnipeg Scholarship 

Grady and Poppy will attend summer intensive programs at these prestigious schools on scholarship this year.

Poppy Trettel (11) and Grady George (12) in Bluebird Pas De Deux from The Sleeping Beauty. First Place winners in Pas De Deux YAGP Semi-finals 2017 Indianapolis, IN

KCBS Director Grace Holmes recently had this to say about the YAGP program:

“I had never considered competitions as an important aspect of ballet training, in fact I thought it was a distraction from solid training. When I first came to KCB, one of our teachers had been taking a very limited number of students to YAGP – she was single-handedly teaching, coaching, administrating, doing makeup, and making costumes for all of the students who were competing.

When the first group went to YAGP, I could see the positive effects on our students.  The students who participated learned so much from the one-on-one coaching, and the support they received from their fellow students made me realize how much this brought the kids together.

It was driven home when one of the non-competing students asked me if their class could take 10 minutes out of class time to watch the live stream of their peers at the YAGP semi-finals. She even offered me a $10 bill to cover the fee for the live stream. It meant so much to them to ‘be there’ for their friends. This made me rethink the impact of this particular competition for serious-minded students. I also recognized the impact that it would have on us as a school. The visibility and recognition that come with participating at YAGP could get the word out about how our school has evolved.

So this year we went all out and we took 31 students (last year was a trial with 18). Our efforts were well rewarded and I feel we gained national recognition in our participation. Our students were amazing ambassadors for KCBS. I am very proud of the way they comported themselves and I am proud of their achievements.”