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Day: May 29, 2012

Celtics hosting boys b-ball camp in June

(KEIZERTIMES File Graphic)

The McNary High School boys basketball program is hosting summer camps for grades three through eight in June.

Camps will run June 18-21. Students in grades three-five will meet from 9 a.m. to noon and those in grade six-eight will meet from 1-4 p.m. Cost is $45 and includes a camp T-shirt.

Camps will focus on fundamentals like footwork, shooting technique, passing and catching, individual and team defense, dribbling and rebounding.

Registration forms are available at the McNary High School main office and may be sent to with payment to: McNary Boy’s Basketball Club,  McNary High School, c/o Boys Basketball, 595 Chemawa Rd. N., Keizer, OR 97303.

For more information, contact Head Coach Ryan Kirch 541-908-1609 or [email protected]

Positive attitude keeps singer in the game

Kyle Kuhns kicked off his musical training here in the choir room at McNary High School. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

Of the Keizertimes

A few months ago, Kyle Kuhns got to meet some of music’s top stars.

As soon as you hear the names Steven Tyler (of Aerosmith fame), Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson you know this was no ordinary meet-and-greet.

Kuhns, a 2011 graduate of McNary High School, was one step away from going to Los Angeles as an American Idol contestant. He had outshined nearly 7,000 other Hollywood hopefuls, and was on his third audition when he sang before the Idol judges you’re used to seeing on TV. He’d spent time telling his life story to a camera for the FOX show’s producers.

But it wasn’t to be. They kindly told him, not this time. Tyler suggested he join a band and get more experience.

“After Idol, part of me had shut down that and said that’s not really an option for me,” said Kuhns, 18. “It’s going to be rough for me to make it to try to make it in a cut-throat place like Hollywood.”

It almost goes without saying that the glitz, glamour and traffic of Los Angeles is a far cry from his background, growing up here with a Keizer cop for a father and a mother in the financial services industry. His talent has been obvious from an early age: He was one of 10 freshmen chosen to be part of McNary High School’s concert choir and spent three years in the Highlanders Jazz and Highlanders Classics choirs.

You could call him the consummate choir boy. He was its president, after all. Not bad considering some 500 kids sing for director Jim Taylor’s various groups.

“I think having his direction really, really helped me, especially in the small jazz ensemble,” Kuhns said. “We had the freedom to do whatever music was in at the time – pop music and things like that – he allowed us to learn recording and engineering.”

His talent and training landed him a music scholarship at Willamette University, where he’s a freshman studying music performance. Just before the semester started, he and a few thousand would-be Idols went to Portland’s Rose Garden arena, singing over one another in small booths on the arena floor, hoping to get a chance.

Kyle was one of 200 or so that made it through to the second auditions in September of last year. He could sense this time was a little different.

“They’ve picked the good [singers] already,” Kuhns said. “It’s really about what they want and who has good stories that can boost ratings, which makes complete sense.”

Well, mostly good singers anyway.

“During the second round I got to sit next to someone who was very aware that she was not good, but was playing up every aspect of her weirdness and her voice,” Kuhns said. “She was trying to get on TV because she had been an Idol fanatic for quite a while.”

Day 3 was in October. Before that, the most famous people he’d met were stars on the Disney Channel. He walked into the audition room “all smiles” and told them about growing up as a policeman’s son in a sleepy Oregon suburb.

He sang “Sunday Morning,” the Maroon 5 hit that had taken him this far.

You know by now how this particular chapter ends. Kuhns was a little bummed, but didn’t take it too personally.

“They had nothing bad to say about my voice … they were very nice and I have nothing against them,’ Kuhns said. “I just don’t think I was what they were looking for this year.”

He walked away impressed with the level of detail and the long hours producers and singers alike put in to the process. But he wasn’t necessarily ready to do it again until a family friend posted a link to a Fox 12 contest. A few winners would have their airfare paid to San Francisco, the nearest site for X Factor tryouts.

A little gun shy from his Idol experience but realizing he had nothing to lose, he made a video in his kitchen at 1 in the morning. He was one of the lucky winners who got free airfare to the auditions. His grandfather helped him with the other costs.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to go [but] it still is my dream, and I don’t know why I told myself it wasn’t,” Kuhns said.

A few details aside, the formats were almost exactly the same. He also stuck with Maroon 5.

“It had worked for me so well on American Idol and this kinda confirmed this was a good song for me to audition with,” Kuhns said. “A lot of people have one song they audition with.”

The trip to San Francisco was last month. He made it to the second day, where he again learned that his nice, stable background with supportive parents in a fairly ordinary American town could be a liability.

“You have to have a story as well,” Kuhns said. “Sadly, I think that’s one of my biggest downfalls in these competitions. I’m a good kid and I haven’t had a rough life.”

Scotty McCreery, last year’s American Idol winner and country crooner who released his first album last year, has a similarly bucolic background – one that gives Kuhns hope he can seek a similar path.

He walked in confident, looking into the camera lenses and the producers eyes. But if you ever go yourself, don’t expect to see much from the staff.

“They’re kinda giving you a poker face – even when you get to the celebrity judges,” Kuhns said. “They don’t want you to know if they think you’re good or not.”

At least for this season, Kuhns’ X Factor journey ended there. But he’s undeterred. Just recently he was asked by producers of Portland Teen Idol to be a featured performer. And he took Tyler’s advice and joined an a cappella group at Willamette.

He sees himself as musically versatile, and can pull off any pop song despite rather eclectic personal taste, as a fan of artists like Bon Iver and James Blake. Ultimately he sees himself going into contemporary Christian music.

“I’m definitely going to keep pursuing opportunities like this when they come my way, and maybe even harder than I have been,” Kuhns said.

New Celtic volleyball coach hopes to make netters a powerhouse

Kellie Scholl, seen above with members of the Aloha High School team in 2011, was named the new head volleyball coach at McNary High School last week. (Photo courtesy of Miles Vance and The Beaverton Valley Times)

Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School volleyball program has a new head coach. Kellie Scholl has been hired to take the reins of the Celtic netter program.

Scholl was most recently head coach of Aloha High School program where she held the post for about seven years. She resigned from the position earlier this year after moving to Keizer.

“My plan was to take a year or two off and hang out with my four kids, but I realized pretty quickly that I enjoyed it too much,” Scholl said. “I enjoy having my kids around the program and seeing the athletes who are role models for them.”

From 1999 until 2004, she was an assistant coach at the University of Portland. The existing strength of the McNary program, which has contended for Central Valley Conference titles for the past several years, will be something of a change for Scholl.

“Up to this point,  I’ve started in programs that hadn’t had much success and that definitely isn’t the case with McNary,” she said. “I want to be able to continue the success in the district and see them become more of a perennial powerhouse in the state year-in and year-out.”

Scholl is a former high school and college volleyball player who finished her career as a middle blocker for University of Illinois. She will try to instill in the girls the same values she learned in years as an athlete, she said. She is also a strong advocate for students competing in multiple sports throughout the year.

“Volleyball is a team sport where you have a group of people working together to achieve the same goal, when we’re on the court, it’s very much a family atmosphere where we are playing to make our teammates better.,” Scholl said. “I run a fast-paced practice and I push the girls pretty hard, but it’s very positive in the gym. The main goal is to have fun. If you are working hard and having fun, you are going to get the win.”

Cowan gets good evaluation from Keizer Fire directors

Jeff Cowan (File Photo)

For the Keizertimes

Fire Chief Jeff Cowan of the Keizer Fire District received a B-plus rating from the board of directors Tuesday after an executive session evaluating his performance.

The board also renewed his contract, under which his annual salary will be $110,328. In other personnel matters, the board accepted the resignation of Karen Bracken as office manager. She will move July 1 to Fairbanks, Alaska, where her husband, Fire Capt. Frank Bracken, will take a fire department position.

The board voted to hold a work session, open to the public, on the district’s financial work plan at 5 p.m. June 12. Van Meter said that service level options need to be discussed.

“I would like to see the public in attendance as we work through these issues,” director Mike Kurtz said.

An amendment to the 2011-12 budget, decreasing the general fund by $119,173 because of several unanticipated expenses, was approved by a 4-1 vote. President Joe Van Meter cast the negative vote, saying he thought there was enough money in the budget to cover those expenses.

The board voted to apply for a $12,210.39 Assistance to Firefighters Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which the district would use to buy three LIFEPAK 15 defibrillation units, a bariatric stretcher and winch-ramps.