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Spring Variety Show

A BIG Thank You to all who attended the variety show last night.

Leadership Impact Award

Johnsons honored for leadership


Shelley and Kent Johnson receive their Leadership Impact Award Thursday night at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. From left are Sgt. Major Ricky Weber of the Indiana National Guard, a speaker at the event; Jena Henson, the Johnsons foster daughter; Shelley Johnson, Kent Johnson; Craig and Jean Wehr, friends of the Johnsons; and university Chancellor Ron Elsenbaumer.

FORT WAYNE — Honoring their lifetimes of involvement, Kent and Shelley Johnson of Auburn received an award Wednesday night at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

The Indiana National Guard and IPFW presented the Johnsons with a Leadership Impact Award in the community leadership category.

The second annual event recognized IPFW students, faculty, staff and alumni for their significant contributions to northeast Indiana.

Both Johnsons are IPFW alumni. Shelley Johnson, a vocal music teacher at DeKalb High School, earned her master’s degree from IPFW. Kent Johnson, employed by Tower Automotive in Auburn, holds a bachelor’s degree from IPFW.

“It’s kind of cool to be recognized by your university,” Kent Johnson said after the ceremony, which honored seven students, a local business leader and the Johnsons.

IPFW said the Leadership Impact Awards recognize individuals who make an outstanding impact on the community, contribute time and energy to improve the quality of life for others, personify outstanding qualities and attainments in leadership, and actively engage and enable others to realize their full leadership potential.

The Johnsons received the award for their community activities and more than 30 years of leading the choir and drama programs at the high school, where Kent Johnson served as his wife’s assistant director.

Choirs directed by the Johnsons have sung not only at school events, but also at numerous community functions including Memorial Day services, July 4 celebrations, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival and the DeKalb County Free Fall Fair.

“I always love to get them out in front of the people who support them,” Johnson said about her choir students. She said the choir program asks the community for support, and “I think it’s important for them to see the kids.”

Mentioning one event where students perform, she said, “Old Settlers Day at the fair. I love that. That’s one of my favorite days.”

In their role with the show choirs, the Johnsons helped build the annual DeKalb Invitational into the largest show choir competition in the Midwest.

After attending a garden stroll that impressed them, the Johnsons founded Auburn’s Garden Walk in 2000 as a fundraising event for the show choirs. Each year 6-8 local homeowners open their gardens to visitors on a Saturday in the late spring.

The Johnsons also are involved at First Christian Church in Auburn, where Kent serves on the board of directors and Shelley is the pianist.

Kent Johnson serves actively as vice president of the DeKalb Outdoor Theater in Auburn, which offers free entertainment in warm-weather months. He said “trying to make the community a really cool place, where people want to be,” motivates him.

He added, “We’re from a really neat community, and the way to make it that way is just to be involved.”


A BIG Thank You to all who attended Footloose over the weekend.

Auburn story comes to stage

Three former members of DeKalb High School’s Classic Connection show choir brought their stage show, “Forever Young,” to the Embassy Theatre in Fort Wayne Saturday night. Afterward, alumni of DeKalb choirs gathered on the Embassy staircase for photos. At lower left are cast member Justin Sassanella, DeKalb choirs co-director Kent Johnson and cast members Evan Bosworth and Josh Sassanella.

FORT WAYNE — Stories of growing up in Auburn drew a large contingent of DeKalb County residents to the Embassy Theatre on Saturday night.

The cast of “Forever Young” entertained the audience with songs from the soundtracks of their lives.

Auburn natives Josh Sassanella, Justin Sassanella and Evan Bosworth wrote the show, and the latter two performed in the five-man cast.

Forever Young Saturday @ Embassy

Ft Wayne Journal Gazette  Wednesday, March 28, 2018 1:00 am

Life’s musical journey -Evan Bosworth – A homecoming

Local natives bring friendships, careers full circle with stage production

“Forever Young,” written by Auburn natives Evan Bosworth, Josh Sassanella and Justin Sassanella, chronicles a journey that begins with young listeners’ discovery of their parents’ vinyl records in a suburban Indiana basement to trace five musical adventures around the world.

The show will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Embassy Theatre. Tickets are available at the Embassy box office (260-424-6287) and

“Forever Young” is a story I wrote with Josh and Justin Sassanella. Growing up as childhood best friends in the Auburn/Fort Wayne area, the three of us enjoyed playing sports and being involved in school choir and theater programs. We were a part of DeKalb Classic Connection, one of the nation’s top show choirs, and performed on school stages across the area, including Northrop, Bishop Luers, Carroll, New Haven, Homestead and many more all over the Midwest.

Under the direction of our iconic show choir director, Shelley Johnson, Classic Connection was named grand champion at Disney World’s Showstoppers competition.

After high school graduation, we went our separate ways. Josh followed his Broadway dreams and has performed in musical hits – “Rock of Ages,” “Mamma Mia,” “Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark,” and “High School Musical,” to name a few.

Justin, his brother, was talented in many areas and was drafted out of high school by the New York Mets, where he played in the team’s minor league system before pursuing his passion for music. He took to the stage professionally and has performed in numerous shows including “The 12 Irish Tenors” and “New Jersey Nights,” as well as on cruise ships across the globe.

After graduating from college, I also took to the stage, opening for LeAnn Rimes, Vanessa Carlton and the Backstreet Boys at multiple Six Flags theme park concerts. I’ve shared stage time with the late great Andy Williams, the Osmond Brothers and many more. My musical gifts have afforded me the opportunity to work on cruise ships as a headline entertainer, and I’ve performed all over the world while visiting over 110 countries.

A few years back, Josh, Justin and I decided to write a story about our lives, using the greatest musical hits of all time. It begins with the main characters discovering their parents’ vinyl record collection and falling in love with that music, and it then follows where the music takes them throughout their lives. The story culminates with the guys reuniting to write this incredible story, with one message: Music has the power to unite us all.

Our show spent two successful years in the musical town of Branson, Missouri, where it faced competition from as many as 145 productions to win Best New Show, Best Production Show and Best Musical Show. Currently, the show is touring the nation, with performances in more than 20 states so far, and arrangements are in the works to perform in Beijing, Shanghai and Sydney.

Now the show is coming home to where it all began. Saturday, we’ll perform at Embassy Theatre in Fort Wayne.

We’re proud of our work, but we also want to give back to the community. In March 2017, we were chosen to be official ambassadors of the Give a Note Foundation, a foundation created by NAfME (the National Association for Music Education), which raises funds to keep music education in schools across the nation.

Our partnership with NAfME, whose other partners include 21st Century Fox and Radio Disney, has afforded us the opportunity to support music education through workshops, question-and-answer sessions and master classes at universities, high schools and middle schools. Over the course of a year, we’ve raised more than $30,000 for music education.

If you would like to help support this wonderful cause, we’ll be accepting donations Saturday. We have workshops scheduled with area high schools and middle schools to use our knowledge and experience to help inspire students to be the best they can be and to follow their passion for music. We are living proof – local living proof – that if you set your goals high and work hard, anything is possible!

Evan Bosworth, a music headliner for Princess Cruises, is an Auburn native.

Heart of America Florida Trip

The DeKalb Show Choirs returned home late Monday night from a wonderful trip to Florida and competing in the Heart of America Orlando Competition.

We arrived Thursday morning to colder than expected temperatures and needed to adjust our schedule as Typhoon Lagoon was closed.  We visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Thursday instead.  Friday we visited Typhoon Lagoon and enjoyed the water park immensely.  Friday night we had dinner at Cici’s, returned to the hotel for rehearsal in the parking lot and then to bed.

Saturday morning we loaded up and headed to the Orlando Convention Center which is a 7 million square feet building – wow is that place large!  We unloaded our equipment and headed for the freight elevators which took us to the freight elevator for the performances.  While the competition did get behind schedule (Classic’s performance was 2 hours later than scheduled), overall it was very well run and we were treated wonderfully.  We got to compete against some of the best choirs in the nation and just being in that company was amazing.

We visited Disney’s Magic Kingdom on Sunday and had an awesome day there.  After the park closed, we headed back for Indiana.

The only unexpected items happened to the truck and trailer.  We blew a tire on the trailer on the way down, had a car run into the trailer shortly after exiting the Florida toll road (no damage to the trailer, thankfully) and blew a tire on the truck shortly after leaving for home on Sunday.  We were very thankful for all of the roadside assistance we received and were happy that these events happened to the truck and trailer and not to the buses full of kids.Magic Kingdom 3 2018


DeKalb Choral Department sent 3 groups to STATE last weekend.  The Dynamix (or Dina Mix as the MC kept announcing them) performed on Friday night.  There are no placements given at this event.

Sound Sensation placed 3rd in the Unisex Division.  GC was Franklin Community, 2nd Northridge, DeKalb, 4th Columbia City; 5th New Prairie; 6th Fairfield; 7th New Palestine, 8th Monrovia, 9th Pendleton Heights, 10th East Noble.

Classic Connection placed 7th in the Mixed Division;  GC was Franklin Community, 2nd Busco, 3rd Northridge, 4th New Castle, 5th Pendleton Heights, 6th Fairfield, DeKalb, 8th Beech Grove, 9th New Palestine.

All of our groups performed at the highest level giving their best performances of the year at State.  We are all very proud of them.


State Preview Show Thurs 7 pm

The DeKalb Choral Department will have a State preview show Thursday night at 7 pm.  This will feature the Dynamix and the songs they will perform Friday Night as well as Sound Sensation and Classic Connection and the shows they will be performing on Saturday.

This preview show is open to the public and all are invited to attend.  This is a great chance to have friends and family see the shows who are not able to attend the contests.  The doors will open at 6:30 pm with the performances starting at 7.  We will also have brief meetings for the parents and family members who are traveling with the choirs to Florida for the Heart of America Contest in Orlando.

Classic & Sound to STATE

State Show Choir Finals at Franklin Central HS Saturday March 17th.

Sunday afternoon in Indy, ISSMA had the draw for the 2018 Show Choir State Finals, and both Classic Connection and Sound Sensation have qualified.  The DeKalb Show Choirs have been in every State finals since it began in 2005.  Classic Connection has the State Title or 1st Runner Up 9 times, Sound Sensation has the State Title or 1st Runner Up 6 times.  On Saturday March 17th, DeKalb will make a run for the State Championship again with both groups.

Sound Sensation performs at 11:30 am; Classic Connection performs at 5:30 pm.  Admission for adults is $13 per session ($11 for students).  You can purchase admission to all three events – Jazz, Women’s & Mixed for $20 for adults and $18 for students.

Franklin Central HS is located at 6215 S. Franklin Road, Indianapolis IN 46259.  This will be the first year that Small School Finals will be held at Franklin Central.