‘I Knew I Would Regret It If I Didn’t Go’: Two WBHS Students Audition for American Idol

By Jessica Steger, Editor in Chief

“American Idol” is making a comeback, and this time it has local connections.

Over the summer West Bend West High School seniors Andrew Haese and Madelyn Koepp traveled to Chicago to audition for “American Idol.” To enter the competition, one must first go through a round of auditions with producers and then make it through a second round with the judges. Neither students advanced past the first rounds of auditions, but they still had a worthwhile experience.

“I am so incredibly blessed to have had this opportunity, because I knew I would regret it if I didn’t go,” Koepp said. “It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but definitely one of the best moments in my life.”

For her audition Koepp sang “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. Haese performed a different genre, singing “I’m Not the Only One” by Sam Smith, which did not seem to impress the judges.

“That was the issue, because it starts off kind of slow and then builds up, and they weren’t even listening,” Haese said. “I think I know how it works now. So if anyone out there is trying to audition for ‘American Idol’ next year, you got to go big and you got to go bold. And you can’t spare any energy, you just have to let it all out and make those producers notice you.”

In addition to this lesson, Haese took away the experience of meeting new people as he waited in line for his audition.

“The people I met in line were all super cool and super fun,” he said. “They were basically the same person as me. The girl next to me was a beautiful, amazing singer.”

Koepp had a similar experience as she waited for three and a half hours.

“I met so many wonderful people while waiting in line,” she said. “Some of us even had a group get together and sang a bit.”

Even at a young age Haese was being prepped to audition. Not only did he watch the show, he was often encouraged to try it out for himself.

“I’ve heard from teachers ever since kindergarten,” Haese said. “I watched growing up, so I said, ‘hey, it’s coming back this year so why not try?’”

David Pecsi, Haese’s current choir director, has noticed his talent.

“Andrew’s a great student,” Pecsi said. “Really ambitious, and a fantastic singer obviously. I know that he is splitting his time between college and high school, but he’s still involved in choir.”

Both students were well-prepared for their auditions, due to their early singing careers. Koepp has been singing since she was seven and Haese recalls singing at the ripe age of three.

“When I was three years old, I got a karaoke machine for my birthday, and I remember on my birthday being outside with all my family singing,” Haese said.

He continued singing from there, participating in school musicals and plays, as well as drama club and choir.

“You can’t spare any energy, you just have to let it all out and make those producers notice you.”
– Andrew Haese

Koepp has also been involved with singing through the school, participating in choir and Vivace! her sophomore year. She sings in the community as well, performing annually for the fundraiser Chix-4-a-Cause and performing at the Washington County Fairgrounds for a friend’s 18th birthday.

Haese and Koepp both plan to continue careers in music.

“I really want to pursue radio in the future,” Haese said. “That’s where my head is at and my true passions are. Why not take the best of both things I like, talking and music, and put them together?”

Koepp’s ambitions are directly tied to singing.

“I’m going to continue to sing for fun throughout my life, and most likely keep auditioning, because the more you work on it, the more you will improve,” Koepp said. “I won’t give up on singing no matter what.”

(Photos courtesy of Madelyn Koepp and Andrew Haese.)

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