Ninth-grader Courtney O’Donnell represented Laguna Blanca School in the annual Unity Shoppe Telethon’s “American Idol competition” on Saturday.

Laguna Blanca ninth-grader Courtney O’Donnell sings

Laguna Blanca ninth-grader Courtney O’Donnell sings “Before You Decide” during Saturday’s competition. (Laguna Blanca School photo)

She competed against other talented performers from Dos Pueblos High, Santa Barbara High and San Marcos High schools in the televised benefit.

O’Donnell owned the stage as she sang “Before You Decide,” a song she wrote and produced.

Four judges from the Music Academy of the West and the general public voted her the overall winner for best voice quality and presentation. She earned a $1,000 scholarship, and Laguna Blanca School won $1,500.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the prize for O’Donnell is the opportunity to open for the group Five for Fighting at The Granada on Jan. 8 in a Kids Helping Kids benefit concert. Kids Helping Kids is a student-run event that raises money for the Unity Shoppe through a benefit concert, live and silent auctions, and a big raffle.

Laguna’s student body president, Dawson Ingersoll, promoted the singing contest at the school, and math instructor and musician Paul Chiment coordinated Laguna’s talent selection process and logistics in participating in the telethon’s singing competition for local high school students.

Each high school was allowed one student entry. Laguna teachers David Barndollar, Joseph Beck and Donna O’Connor voted O’Donnell as the Laguna representative at a campus contest last week.

“Courtney looked and sounded like a pro at the telethon, and I was very proud of the way she represented our school,” Chiment said.

— Tara Broucqsault is Laguna Blanca School’s communications director.