UNION, NJ – Seventeen contestants vied for the top award at Saturday night’s “Union’s Got Talent” at Union High School. 

This year, Taylor Mitchell, singing “What’s Up” won first place and the top prize of $1,000. 

“My children asked me to enter,” said Mitchell speaking of her 10- and 7-year old children.  “They pushed me to do it.  I didn’t think I’d make the audition never mind win.”

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In its fifth year and once again hosted by Meridoc “Doc” Burkhardt, “Union’s Got Talent” saw singers, dancers, a pianist and guitarists.  The event benefits the DMK Scholarship Fund created to honor the memory of Douglas M. Krueger, a UHS graduate who died in 2004, and the Union High School Performing Arts Company.

“We do this to keep Doug’s memory alive,” said his mother Marie Krueger-Canarelli.  “Giving back to the school that he loved and the arts program he loved makes this special.” 

The second place award and $500 went to Dominick Caban, a 12th grader at Union High school, who sang “And I Love Her”.

A prize of $100 for the Youth Award was presented to dancer Brooke Dubon, a 6th grade Burnet Middle School student, who danced to “I’m a Lady”.

The People’s Choice Award and $250 went to Hannah Caldwell School kindergartener Alfred David.

Performances from the 2017 Union’s Got Talent show were:

  • Jiencarlo Guzman (2nd Grade, Franklin School)
  • Marcus Mcpherson (12th Grade, Union High School)
  • Emma Phillips (4th Grade, Washington Elementary)
  • Rena Picciano (5th Grade, Jefferson Elementary)
  • Heather Porter (12th Grade, Union High School)
  • Leon Richardson (UHS Alumni Class of 2008)
  • Gregory Senesca (8th Grade, Burnet Middle School)
  • Abby Hagen and Alyssa Carbonell (11th Grade, UHS/12th Grade UCTVS)
  • Briel Alonso (6th Grade, Burnet Middle School)  
  • Anastasia Barsukova (Student, Kean University)
  • Jaidah Burgess (8th Grade, Kawameeh Middle School)  
  • Christopher Forest (8th Grade, Burnet Middle School)

All proceeds raised benefit the two organizations who give back to the students of Union Township through scholarships and arts education.   

In his memory, Krueger’s mother, Marie Krueger Canarelli, and her family have been raising money for scholarships awarded every year to students of Union High School.  In addition, scholarships are also awarded at Wagner College and at the Paper Mill Playhouse.  

The Union High School Performing Arts Company remains one of the strongest arts training programs for theater students in New Jersey.  The UHSPAC has been nominated for over 126 prestigious Paper Mill Rising Star Awards, an event that recognizes excellence in High School Theater. 

“Each year it brings such a smile to my face getting to witness the amazing talent Union has to offer,” said UHSPAC Choreographer Jennifer Williams. “Not only do we get to help raise money for our students, but we are also getting to do it in memory of my dear friend Doug. That combined with uniting our community for a night of wonderful entertainment, it doesn’t get any better.”