Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski is the founder and director of the Washington Health System Teen Outreach. She responds to 6–8 questions from young people daily and has written 'Ask Mary Jo' since 2005.

Jan. 27 is our Teen Outreach’s 10th annual Washington’s Got Talent finale at Canon-McMillan High School, from 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Traditionally I dedicate the columns prior to the finale to our young finalists. They respond to three questions: 1. Why do you enjoy performing? 2. What does performing in Washington’s Got Talent mean to you, and 3. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? In ABC order, here are the responses from the second half of our 22 finalists:

Emily Klein: 1. I love performing because many people don’t think baton twirling is an actual sport, but by doing performances, like this one, I get to show people that it’s more than just throwing something in the air. It’s the style, the concentration, the showmanship, and much more I also love to hear my friends and family cheer for me in the audience no matter what happens. 2. Performing here means so much to me especially since my older sister competed here when she was a sophomore in high school. I have always looked up to her and have always wanted to make it to his event. 3. In 10 years I see myself graduated from college and pursuing a medical career. I would also like to keep baton twirling in my life, so I plan on teaching kids as well.

Marissa McCracken: 1. I love the work leading up to the big performance on the stage or at a competition. One of my favorite parts of the entire process is being with all of my dance sisters. Overall, performing with each and every one of my dance sisters has brought many memories that I will never forget. 2. Performing in Washington’s Got Talent means so much to me. It proves that hard work and dedication really does pay foo. I am so thankful for all of my dance teachers and dance family on both the competition and the recreation team. 3. In 10 years, I hope to own a dance studio. My goal is to encourage others to love dance as much as I do.

Brett Philips: 1. I enjoy performing because I like to entertain people and share my love with music. 2. I find Washington’s Got Talent is an opportunity for young people to share their talents. 3.I see myself as a medical school student, but I will still be passionate about music.

Amanda Reilly: 1. I enjoy performing because it’s always been part of my life and helped me build self-confidence that I used to lack a lot. 2. Performing in WGT is a chance for me to go out of my comfort zone and try something new. I’m excited to meet new people and see everyone perform. 3. In 10 years I see myself with a job in public relations, hopefully in advertising, and still performing on the side.

Mike Schaal: 1. It brings a smile to people’s faces and they enjoy listening to the music. 2. It will bring my friends and family together to listen and watch fun-filled performances. 3. I have no clue.

Menzi Sherwin: 1. I love performing because it gives me a rush. I love making my mom proud. 2. It means I do have what it takes to be a great dancer. To show off what I can do. 3. In 10 years I will be graduating college and starting my career as a veterinarian.

The Mask Project

Maria Cimino: 1. I love to tell a story to the audience without having to talk with them. I like being able to show them what I love to do and how passionate I am about it. 2. It gives me a broader audience to share my talent with, and it’s another chance to spend time with my friends. 3. I see myself happy with a family, a job, and hopefully still in touch with Sophia, Katie and Anna.

Anna Johnson: 1. I enjoy performing because I love to express myself through dance. I have met friends through dance and I enjoy performing with them. 2. Performing in Washington’s Got Talent is important to me because it’s a way to meet new friends through something I love doing. 3. I see myself still dancing and doing what I love.

Katie Kerrigan: 1. I like tap dancing because it allows me to have a home away from home. 2. It’s an exciting opportunity to showcase our talent. 3. I see myself in a job and still in touch with my friends.

Sophia Strnisha: 1. I love the feeling of being on stage. Preparation, although hard, is always fun with my best friends. 2. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and perform in front of people who have never seen us dance. 3. Hopefully with a family, a good job, and with my best friends I have now. I hope to also always have dance in my life.

Hannah West: 1. I just love singing and playing. 2. It helps me with confidence in my performance. 3. Out of college looking for a solid job.

Have a question? Send it to Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski’s email

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