By Nathan Pace
Four young ladies from the Southside will display their musical abilities in “Music City U.S.A.” during summer vacation.
Adia Dant, Breanna Jaffe, Grace Hovanec and Taylor Eagan will be featured performers in the CMA Showcase for the TV show “Nashville Spotlight” in Nashville, Tenn. The showcase features young artists from all over the USA and Canada and will be held before CMA Festival June 7 and 8.
• Adia Dant just completed the sixth grade at St. Jude. In 2014 she performed in a nationwide tour for Troika Entertainment’s production of “Annie.” She will sing eight songs at the CMA Showcase.
“It's a like a precursor to the actual CMA show,” said Adia about the showcase. “And it’s a really good opportunity for me to get my music more out there. I have a lot of experience performing because of being in ‘Annie.’ ”
Adia said she is excited to see how her performance can continue to build her career. “I would like to see my original song get out there a little bit more. I love where it is going right now; it has been great.”
While Adia is excited about singing, her favorite is performing in plays. “I feel like my main stage right now in this part of my life is Broadway. Because being in that tour gave me experience to go a little further. Being on stage is so much fun. It's like a second home to me.”
• Breanna Jaffe recently finished her freshmen year at Roncalli, where she sings in the advance women's choir and takes part in theater.
“I will be singing and performing at least three sets,” Breanna said. “I sing mainly country music, and then I have a few originals.”
She won a youth contest at the State Fair in August and says the win prepared her for a bigger stage like the CMA Showcase. “Competition is good for everyone. It does boost my confidence for sure.”
In addition to singing, Breanna loves to play guitar and hopes to make it a career. “I am hoping to be as successful as I can with the happiest life possible. I hope to continue music or the entertainment business my whole career whether that is teaching and giving lessons or playing night gigs.”
• Grace Hovanec will have quite a story to tell her sixth-grade classmates at St. Jude School when she returns from Nashville.
She said she is excited to see how the experience will help her grow. “I think it will help with confidence in front of people. I will get to emcee for one day.”
Grace and two of her friends formed a group called Triple Threat and started out in music through playing the piano.
“We have fun times together," she said of her group. "I will be there for three days; I can't wait to see everybody.”
When not singing or acting, Grace can be found playing basketball, volleyball or softball. She won her school’s Christian Attitude Award.
• Taylor Eagan will be an eighth-grader at St. Roch Catholic school in the fall, but she will learn plenty this summer being an emcee at the CMA Showcase.
“I will be singing four songs and also announcing people as they come on stage, helping them get off stage, making sure they are ready to get on stage,” Taylor said.
It shouldn’t be out of her comfort zone as she has performed at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and at Greenwood Park Mall. She has also sung the national anthem at Indy Fuel hockey games.
Taylor, who has performed in numerous plays, describes her music as upbeat and says Paula Abdul inspired her.
“I love to do plays and theater. I love acting as well. My dream is to be on Broadway.”
By B. Scott Mohr
Best known for his 2016 walk across America to raise money for Helping Hands for Freedom, a veterans organization, Beech Grove Middle School eighth-grade math teacher Kevin Winton has been named Teacher of the Year by the Beech Grove High School Association.
Mr. Winton is known too for his excellence in the classroom. He loves teaching math, and everyone at the school knows that. He is a wonderful role model, and all of his students enjoy having him as a teacher. He makes learning fun and incorporated math into his walk by letting students know how many steps it would take to make a mile.
Not only is Mr. Winton a superb instructor, he also stresses how important it is for his students to set goals and work to achieve them.
He is being honored for his unique way of reaching his students and showing them that life – like math – starts with the first step.
“I’m seeing my second generation of students,” the 30-year teacher (29 at Beech Grove) said. “It’s rewarding to see my former students doing so well in their family lives and careers.”
Winton and his walking partner, Indianapolis police detective David Roth, set out on their journey April 28 when departing Atlantic City, N.J., on historic U.S. Route 40 with their destination being San Francisco.
Their journey – known as the Route for the Brave – took them 3,091 miles across 14 states in four months, during which time Mr. Winton wore out 13 pairs of shoes and numerous socks. They averaged between 3 and 4 mph and 20 to 25 miles a day, six days a week.
Their training began in the summer of 2015 by walking much of Route 40 in Indiana. They normally walked twice a day, covering anywhere from 8 to 16 miles. Winton once logged 35 miles on a Sunday – a round-trip jaunt from his Acton home to Downtown Indianapolis.
“The people I met as we walked across Indiana were extraordinary and truly amazing,” Mr. Winton said before his trek across the United States. “The stories shared as we stopped at various small communities were fascinating. It is impossible to describe the sunrise over the soybean fields near Spiceland.
“The number of hawks was too numerous to count, but the bald eagle flying along the White River and then perching on the old Washington Street Bridge was one incredible sight. I had no idea how invigorating walking would be. I can’t begin to imagine the majestic views we will have over our venture,” said Winton, who coaches the school’s Academic Pursuit team, which won the 2016 Marion County tournament.
His daughters, Kathryn, Jessica and Elizabeth, all of whom are college students and graduates of Franklin Central High, and Laura Williams, now his fiancee, provided him a great amount of support.
Also big backers were his parents, Jim and Sue, who live in Acton on a farm that has been in Sue’s family since 1842.
Mr. Winton was thankful for all the telephone calls and texts that Beech Grove teachers and friends sent him along the way of his ocean-to-ocean walk.
The money that he and Roth raised will be used to construct a retreat home for military families.
Reflecting on his walk, Winton commented, “I cannot describe my emotions of the walk and especially the many families of veterans who told us their stories of bravery. We were able to share their personal pride, grief and sorrow in losing loved ones all along the way. Many of their comments will not be forgotten.”
Mr. Winton had always wanted to embark upon a project that would have a lasting impression. His inspiration came from a quote by John Bunyan that he ran across while writing a paper for a theology and literature class at Franklin College: “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
“ I am hoping the Route for the Brave will have an impact on numerous people for years to follow,” Winton said.
The Acton resident, a deacon at New Bethel Baptist Church, was awestruck by the beauty of the land and the unity of the people across the United States.
“The beauty is beyond description. And the openness of the people has been uplifting particularly at the end of the walk on many days.”
The sights and hospitality were incredible: They were followed by deer down a mountain peak in Maryland and the Appalachian Trail; seeing the grandeur of Sideling Hill in western Maryland; pausing at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.; enjoying the hospitality of New Bethel Baptist Church on the Southside; standing in an arch of a section of the Berlin Wall in Missouri; speaking at Chapman (Mo.) United Methodist Church; reaching the Berthound Pass and crossing the Continental Divide; seeing the sun rise above the Rocky Mountains; and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and seeing the San Francisco Bay.