Manistee High School Students attend private concert in Maryland after placing third in national contest

MANISTEE ­­– Two Manistee High School students got the experience of a lifetime when they were flown to Maryland over the weekend to attend a private concert performed by country group Maddie & Tae.

Sophomores Billie Gajewski and Chloe Pepera placed third in Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Listen Carefully video contest, which granted them an all-expense paid trip to Maryland in addition to other items as a reward.

“It was an amazing experience, especially being right in the front row,” said Pepera. “They were talking to people in the audience and it just felt like you were a part of the concert. “

Gajewski said she was surprised by the concert because she thought it was going to be a small production, but the group had their whole setup with streamers, smoke and lights.

In addition to attending the concert, the girls also got to meet the duo to take photos and talk with them. They were also called up on stage before the concert started to be recognized for placing in the contest, which is when they received their prize.

“(Maddie & Tae) saw our video and watched the whole thing. They were like, ‘yours is the one with the cute little baby’, so that’s when we knew they actually did see it,” said Pepera.

Austin Denean/News Advocate Manistee High School sophomores Chloe Pepera (left) and Billie Gajewski (right) sit with some of the items they were given while attending a private Maddie & Tae concert in Germantown, Maryland. Pepera and Gajewski placed third in Starkey Foundation's Listen Carefully video competition, which earned them a free trip and camera equipment.

Austin Denean/News Advocate
Manistee High School sophomores Chloe Pepera (left) and Billie Gajewski (right) sit with some of the items they were given while attending a private Maddie & Tae concert in Germantown, Maryland. Pepera and Gajewski placed third in Starkey Foundation’s Listen Carefully video competition, which earned them a free trip and camera equipment.

Video Production teacher Brian Veine made the trip with his students to attend the concert and tour the town.

“It was cool to see (D.C.) with students and watch them learn, and getting to know the parents at a different level was cool too,” Veine said. “The Starkey Foundation treated us like kings and queens.”

Veine and his students stumbled across the Listen Carefully contest on a website and said it was a no-brainer to enter. His class started shooting videos in November and began voting during the winter, which is how the girls placed third.

“We’re propped and ready to go for next year. I don’t know what they have planned, but we’re ready,” Veine said. “It just gets the kids excited about it, so they’re going to be ready to go.”

Both girls received a GoPro camera as part of their reward for placing third in the contest, which they decided to donate back to their video production class.

“We donated them because without that class, we never would have entered that contest,” Pepera said.

Gajewski and Pepera said they are making a video to thank everyone involved for their trip and to get more students interested in the video production class.

“I just wanted to say thank you to the community because we wouldn’t have actually made it without having our name in the paper and getting it out there,” Pepera said.

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Posted by Austin Denean

Austin is a summer intern at the News Advocate; he will be covering a variety of topics and events. He can be reached at (231) 398-3114 or mnaintern@pioneergroup.com.

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