By SALLY ELLERTSON
Burleson Star Editor
That's the new
catch phrase thanks to Burleson's
"American Idol" Kelly
Clarkson, who flew back to Texas
Wednesday night after she was
voted in as a top three finalist
on FOX-TV's "American Idol:
The Search For A Superstar"
(see story, this issue).
The 2000 graduate
of Burleson High School got a
greeting fit for a superstar when
she arrived at BHS Thursday morning.
And that was "cool beans."
"I did not
expect them to be waiting outside
for me, especially in this Texas
heat," Clarkson said.
the BHS principal, was surprised
of the students was even more
intense than I thought it would
be," Crummel said.
extremely excited about her celebrity
status and even more proud of
her as a former BHS student."
Clarkson was swarmed
by students as she arrived and
as she made her way to the office
where she reunited with friends,
family, and former teachers and
have you been doing this summer?"
teacher Brad Allard cracked as
he gave Clarkson a hug.
little show," Clarkson threw
It's been a whirlwind
since June 25 when Clarkson rocketed
to the top three out of 10 finalists
(11,000 auditioned for the show)
after singing Aretha Franklin's
She's been singing
her way to the top on national
TV, every Tuesday night, since
At stake is a
$2 million recording contract.
"I just rehearse
and pray to God that he won't
let me screw up on national television,"
Clarkson said when asked how she
Her former teachers
don't think that's possible. She's
been described as "bubbly,
outgoing, and sweet," "level
headed," and "people
"I try to
be as real as I can be,"
the 20-year-old Clarkson said.
try to be one way in front of
the camera and one way off camera.
I don't want to be fake. I come
on national TV with no makeup
on (when she's not performing
to see it eventually in some Enquirer
page, so if I'm not performing,
I'm not going to put on a show.
I'm just going to be myself."
And her fans love
reactions were really great, very
enthusiastic, and supportive,"
think their reactions genuinely
reflect the affection they have
her high school choir teacher,
said the reaction to Kelly's visit
was "interesting, and even
amusing, to hear kids in the halls
saying things like, 'What did
she say to you?' or 'I got her
autograph!' Even the students
in choir who knew her couldn't
help getting caught up in the
moment. They played it really
cool until she started signing
alone won't cut it in the entertainment
ethic is wonderful," Cindy
Glenn, Clarkson's junior high
choir teacher said.
always been a go-getter. She would
be working or practicing in her
seat when everyone else was talking
and laughing. She did not like
to waste her time, but she always
worked hard and played hard. She
gives 100 percent and more to
what she does."
Glenn hopes Clarkson's
example rubs off on future BHS
what you have, but how you use
it," Glenn said.
honest with herself. She pushes
herself to her very best every
time she performs. I think that
combined with her honesty with
people-who she is-makes her star
every bit a star as an entourage
shuttled her from place to place
at BHS Thursday. She spoke to
the entire student body in the
arena where she answered a few
questions, accepted a "care
package" and Elk antlers
from the student body president,
and admitted to being late "once
or twice" to school.
Assistant Principal Robert Griswold
illustrated the real truth by
tossing tardy slips into the air.
I was tardy every day my senior
year," Clarkson said.
But that character
flaw won't break Clarkson, who
Allard said "has the talent
and drive. She has always wanted
to be a star and now she is. She
can handle the fame. She was raised
well and has the moral character
to withstand the pressures of
being famous. And, she certainly
has the talent to do it."
being part of the first "American
Idol" is the "harshest
way to come in but it's the best
way because it prepares you. I've
already been in the Enquirer and
the Globe and I don't even have
Idol" was not Clarkson's
first shot at stardom. She had
moved to Los Angeles and lived
there for four months prior to
the premier of the FOX-TV show.
with "some big people, but
he got ill, my apartment burned
down, and my car got towed,"
"I took that
as a sign and I came home. Then,
my friend Jessica and her parents
said, 'Hey, there's this thing
you should try out for.'"
And the rest is
history. Clarkson said after "American
Idol" she wants to sing as
well as do "behind the scenes
stuff, writing scripts, and I
do want to do Broadway stuff."
admits to being "very focused
on my career," said her goal
Her high school
choir teacher is concerned about
the future of his former student.
'American Idol' thing is both
exciting and a little scary,"
Philip Glenn said.
"I am so
glad she was blessed with this
opportunity to show her abilities
but Kelly is so wonderful that
I hope she doesn't get beat up
by the industry."
His wife agrees.
about those kids after the contest
because they are so sheltered
right now and when it's over the
media and public are going to
hit them full in the face,"
Cindy Glenn said.
would ask for prayers for her,
her family, and her friends. I
think fame is a very hard thing
to adjust to."
has a lot going for her. Crummel
said his former student is "more
mature and polished now."
"She is well
grounded in reality," Philip
knows her talent is a gift from
God and seems to take all the
hype with a grain of salt."
Susan Shaha, Clarkson's
middle school principal, said
"Kelly deserves everything
that comes her way. She is very
down to earth. I don't think this
will go to her head."
at Scott Shaha and Deidre Shaha's
wedding in 1996.
"She is the
same person today that she was
when Deidre had her in class in
the eighth grade. She will handle
her new-found fame with class,
as we have already seen,"
Scott Shaha said.
Being part of
the "American Idol"
cast has given Clarkson something
hard to find trust and good people
in the industry but I have over
10 people I can count on. It's
nice," Clarkson said.
Crummel, a former
band director, is proud of the
way Clarkson has brought recognition
to the fine arts.
who excel in fine arts need more
attention, adoration, and appreciation
for their talents. This event
has vaulted her to a level where
all of America appreciates her
musical ability," Crummel
"She is having
fun and taking this one step at
a time. I think America sees the
same thing we see . . . a great
musician with a ton of genuine