GREENFIELD — Performers from New Palestine High School took home top honors at a scholarship competition supporting the arts.

Seniors Melissa Anness, who sang “The Beauty Is,” from the musical, “Light in the Piazza,” and Cameron Smith, who played “Oboe Concerto, Movement 1” by Ralph Vaughn Williams, each earned $3,500 with their performances at the 16th annual George and Icy Vaughn Performing Arts Scholarship Competition on Friday at the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts in downtown Greenfield.

Smith, who plans to attend the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the fall, also received the people’s choice award, earning a $500 grant for the New Palestine High School band department and a traveling trophy.

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And though the seniors didn’t plan it, the pair even matched — Anness wore a light blue dress while Smith donned a tie and slacks in a similar shade.

Anness, who hopes to study musical theater at Ball State University this fall, admitted she didn’t expect to win a top prize while facing off against the most musically accomplished teens in the county.

Eight students — two from each public county high school — braved the bright lights of the Ricks Theatre stage to vie for nearly $20,000 in scholarships from one of the Hancock County Community Foundation’s endowment funds.

The annual George and Icy Vaughn Performing Arts Scholarship was developed in 1999 when George Vaughn, preceded in death by his wife, Icy, left their estate to the community foundation and charged officials there with the stewardship of an endowment that would forever generate grants for scholarships.

George Vaughn enjoyed the performances of many young people at the nursing home where he lived after his wife’s death and felt moved to find a way to support young creatives, said community foundation president Mary Gibble.

It took about an hour for all eight young artists to perform one selection each. While four judges — Diana Huntoon of Anderson University, Gail Lewis of Butler University, Bethany Robinson of Noblesville High School and Eric Stark of Butler University — ranked the students’ feats of voice and instrument, thespians from CrazyLake Acting Co. performed a scene from “Leading Ladies,” an upcoming play at the Ricks Theatre.

Gibble announced the placement of each competitor, with fourth-place winners Cole Young and Katie Hughes of Eastern Hancock High School earning $1,000 scholarships; third-place winners Matthew Cochran and Katelyn Robinson of Greenfield-Central High School earning $1,500; and runners-up Felicity Kratky and Leah Klinestiver of Mt. Vernon High School each earning $2,500.

Smith said he chose a fast-paced oboe concerto because he loves to play it, and he was well familiar with the piece because he also used it for all of his college auditions.

“I feel good,” Smith said after the competition. “It always feels good when hard work pays off.”

The competitors

George and Icy Vaughn Scholarship finalists:

Eastern Hancock High School

Katie Hughes, “Homeward Bound,” by Marta Keen, arranged by Jay Althouse

Cole Young, “Liebesfreud,” by Fritz Kreisler

Greenfield-Central High School

Matthew Cochran, “Allegro Appassionata,” by Camille Saint-Saens

Katelyn Robinson, “Waiting,” by Carolee Carmello

New Palestine High School

Melissa Anness, “The Beauty Is,” by Adam Guettel

Cameron Smith, “Oboe Concerto, Movement 1,” by Ralph Vaughn Williams

Mt. Vernon High School

Leah Klinestiver, “Nocturne,” by Georges Barrere

Felicity Kratky, “Italian Street Song,” by Victor Herbert

By the numbers

2017 vocal and instrumental performance scholarship amounts

1st place – $3,500

2nd place – $2,500

3rd place – $1,500

4th place – $1,000

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or