AUBURN — The student body at Auburn High School erupted into cheers as Abby Lentini was declared the winner of the Auburn's Got Talent competition Friday.
Lentini cupped her hands around her mouth after her name was called. She was congratulated by the show's emcee and one of the event's organizers, Jake Coleman, who wore a bright gold suit. Lentini held aloft her prize, which looked like a wrestler's championship belt.
The show was organized by the eight-student journalism group The Journalism Boys. Coleman, 18, said before the show that the event is meant to bring students together.
"I guess our biggest thing is, if you think about school, it's like a stressful place," Coleman said. "We're trying to alleviate some of the stress and make it a fun environment."
Four acts competed at the show, but the competition had originally been much wider. Auditions originally started a few weeks ago, with acts competing weekly in front of judges such as The Journalism Boys, the school's student resource officers and Principal Brian Morgan until it was whittled down to the final four. Student Kaleb Cook said around 30 acts tried out. Shirts were sold to raise funds for the show, getting around $500 in profit.
Coleman said before the show started that he sacrificed sleep to make sure it went well, adding that he felt good about it.
"This is probably going to be one of the best shows Auburn High School's ever seen," Coleman said. "I can say that confidently, because we've put in a lot of hours."
Dave Fisselbrand, English and journalism teacher, said he was proud of the members of The Journalism Boys for their efforts on the event. He said some students who normally don't get involved in school events auditioned for the competition.
"This has really grabbed the school's spirit," he said.
Students played with balloons scattered throughout the auditorium before the show began. Coleman could be seen moving to various parts of the auditorium with a face that expressed equal parts excitement and terror.
Lentini went first, performing "Sign of the Times" by Harry Styles. Lentini's movements were akin to a superstar playing a massive arena, even down to dramatically turning her head away from the microphone in one swift movement at one point. Students waved their phones in the air with the phone lights on, illuminating the auditorium that been largely pitch black outside of the lights on stage. After Lentini hit her last note and the crowd got on its feet to applaud, she bobbed her lead left to right with a gigawatt smile.
Billy Liccion was up next, performing a medley of themes from the "Super Mario" game franchise with a violin. The third act were singers Baylee Kennedy and Aaron Baim, who went on instead of original finalist Fiona Chisholm, who was sick. "Second best, let's go!" Kennedy exclaimed on stage to the crowd's laughter before the her breaking into the song "This is Me," from the 2017 film "The Greatest Showman."
John Netti, under his rap name J-Netti, was the final contestant, performing songs he wrote and produced himself. At one point, he tossed a hoodie into the crowd and shouted "J-Netti merch!" He also flung water from a water bottle at the crowd at one point.
Alisa Sheridan and Luke Mock, who weren't competing, then performed, before a finale that included teachers and students dancing on stage as "Jump Around" by House of Pain blared. At one point teacher Matt Moskov ran across the judge's table, which was also on stage. Lentini was then declared the winner.
After the show, Netti said the experience was amazing.
"I'm just glad I was able to do it, the opportunity to go up there," he said.