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Jewish Community Center prepares for KC SuperStar, reflects 10 years after deadly shooting

Tammy Ruder
Posted at 5:58 PM, Mar 07, 2024

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Thursday night is the last call to audition for KC SuperStar.

It’s the Jewish Community Center’s American Idol-style fundraiser and singing competition that gives over $22,000 in scholarships to the 10 high school students who are finalists.

The competition is open to high schoolers across the area.

Auditions were scheduled for Thursday night from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center.

“Very much like American Idol when you walk in and you sing with that music," said Tammy Ruder, executive director and producer with the Jewish Community Center. "So you come, you sing for us, you can pick any song that you like."

Ruder said the singing competition started as a fundraiser for the Jewish Community Center 15 years ago.

But it grew to also give back to the area high schoolers who perform.

“It was a time when music in high schools and stuff and the arts was being defunded," she said. "And we wanted to be able to give kids that were interested and talented the ability to move on to higher education.

This year’s event stands out a little more.

It reminds Ruder and everyone of where they were 10 years ago when they held these auditions.

In April 2014, the Kansas City area was rocked on a Sunday afternoon when a man opened fire at the Jewish Community Center and at Village Shalom Retirement Center in Overland Park, killing three people.

"10 years ago, I was still executive producer of the program and we were here for auditions and the tragedy happened," Ruder said. "We saw hate firsthand.”

So it's why today they're using music to bridge through love and to overshadow hate.

“Coming with the 10 years, it's just as difficult, you know, to think about that and think that there's so much hate, and then we're seeing some of that repeated right now; it's very hard," Ruder said. "So if we can do our part to show how the Jewish Community Center and how this program, KC Superstar, can be so welcoming and inclusive, we're one step in making a difference.”

Ruder and the audition's judging panel will narrow down the 100 to 200 students who audition to a little over 20 for the semifinals in June.

Then, the judges will then narrow that group down to 10 for the finals in August.

At the finals, students who finish fifth through 10th place get a $500 scholarship each. Fourth place gets $1000, third place gets $2500, second place gets $5000, and first place gets $10,000.