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He opened his email and sat in stunned silence for a moment.
Neligh-Oakdale senior Cade Wilkinson received the news he had been waiting for.
“The email said it had a special message for me,” Wilkinson said. “It was a video of the cast and it said, ‘Welcome to Young Americans! Congratulations!’ At first, I was just sitting next to one of my friends and kind of holding the screen up until they looked over. I was kind of in shock a little bit.”
About one month after his audition, he was selected to become a Young American and attend the Young Americans College of the Performing Arts in California.
The son of Justin and Carla Wilkinson of Tilden, Wilkinson said he quickly told his mom, texted Nate Metschke and told choir director Jamie Sehi.
“I was excited,” he said.
Wilkinson said he participated in several Young Americans camps and workshops—two summer camps before entering high school and workshops as a freshman and as a senior. He decided to audition for Young Americans after one of the cast members inspired him to do it.
“This past workshop I did at Norfolk Catholic, I met a Young American, Trent DeGroot,” Wilkinson said. “He left a pretty big impact on me and he talked about how great Young Americans was for him. He was a true friend and I still keep in contact with him. He took me under his wing while I was there.”
He was able to select his audition song. Wilkinson decided to sing the opening to “A Million Dreams,” the solo he had performed at the Niobrara Valley Conference choral clinic.
“I thought it went pretty well,” he said. “I thought that I picked out a good song for my voice range. It was a very comfortable application process. They want you to act like yourself.”
After the audition, it was just a waiting game.
“I was hopeful,” Wilkinson said. “ I have friends in Young Americans, so they kept my spirits up. They thought I would be one of the people that would get in. They felt like I had the perfect attitude towards it.”
He has always had a passion for music.
“I always jam out in the car and sing at the top of my lungs in the shower,” Wilkinson said with a chuckle.
He wasn’t in choir as a freshman, due to scheduling conflicts, but joined the second semester of his sophomore year and has been a choir member ever since.
“It’s always been a priority after that year,” Wilkinson said.
His love for singing has earned him some special honors. He has received superior ratings on both of his solos at the district music contest, earned a spot in the all-state musical last summer and was just selected for the Doane Honor Choir.
“I couldn’t do any of that without Metschke and Mrs. Sehi,” Wilkinson said. “They’re the reasons why I want to come to school. Honestly, I look at them as a second set of parents. They just brighten up my day so much.”
Now he has to decide if Young Americans is the right path for his life.
“I need to make my decision if I’m fully committed to going there, and go through financial information and stuff like that, and how I could plan out my two years there,” Wilkinson said.
He is also considering pursuing a computer science degree at either Northeast Community College in Norfolk and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
So, what will influence his decision?
“I honestly don’t know,” Wilkinson said. “I grew to love living in a small town, but I also like to go to the cities and travel and stuff. I guess what will influence my decision is what happens over the next few months, how I should go on this route.”