Young Americans kick off 2004 tour in Niles

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, January 20, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- With the help of a few Niles natives, the Young Americans will be kicking off their 2004 international tour right here in Niles.
The director of the Young Americans program is Niles High School graduate Bill Brawley. And two graduates from 2001, Matt Marshall and Josh Grinnell, are part of the Young Americans troupe.
Brawley, who graduated in 1973, said it was "awesome" to return to his former home town.
He said Young Americans is important because it helps the students to set goals for themselves and builds their self-esteem and confidence.
There are 276 students from the Niles area enrolled in this year's program.
On Monday afternoon, the group was practicing a Disney-themed finale for their live performances on Tuesday and Wednesday night. The group rehearsed numbers from such movies as Mary Poppins and The Lion King.
In addition to a four-hour workshop on Sunday, the students participated in a 12-hour workshop yesterday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Young Americans have brought in more than 40 talented troupe members to work with the large number of students grades 4-12.
As members of the international tour, the participants are unpaid volunteers who stay in the homes of local families.
Marshall, 20, began his Young American experience years ago when he was a student at Niles High School.
As a student, Marshall participated in the Young Americans program on three separate occasions.
After graduating in 2001, he was accepted to the University of Michigan, but instead decided to move to Anaheim, Calif., and try out for the Young Americans.
He made the cut and this marks the fifth tour he has been a part of.
Marshall said this has been a great opportunity that has allowed him to travel all over the U.S. and even go to other countries such as Germany and Luxemburg.
He said the program is important to students because it "uses music as a vehicle to open them up and raise their self esteem."
Marshall eventually plans on attending Life University in Georgia to become a chiropractor.
The students will show off what they have learned during the workshops in two live performances on tonight and Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Niles High School auditorium. Tickets are on sale at the high school and are $8 for adults and $5 for students.