For three Canfield students, taking a vacation in Georgia yielded a world of fame. They were in the right place at the right time and were selected to appear in the "American Idol" two-hour premiere, not as contestants, but as judges.
The students were part of a joint vacation back in August involving four Canfield families, according to Jeff Grdic. They traveled to Hilton Head, S.C. and on one particular day, decided to take a trip to Savannah, Ga.
"We randomly picked a midweek day, and carpooled to Savannah," said Grdic. "On the way, several of us remember hearing a random local radio station mention 'American Idol'...but didn't pay any attention to it at all."
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Canfield students Lily Grdic, a third-grader at CH Campbell; Kate Grdic, a first-grader at CH Campbell; and Ally Lambert, a seventh-grader at Canfield Middle School, made the “American Idol” television show in January after an interesting twist in a family vacation last fall.
In Savannah, the group took a trolley tour of historic sites, but due to the extreme heat, opted to abandon the tour and head for some cool refreshments.
While at a candy shop, Grdic, his two daughters Lily and Kate and seventh-grader Ally Lambert decided to wait outside as the rest of the group went in. They were standing next to a hotel and there were some large tarps set up around the entrance.
"I noticed a huge window that had a tarps blocking it, and thought that was odd," Grdic said. "I was tall enough where I could just peak through a seam in the tarps...and saw a bank of lights...which I recognized as lights used in TV production."
At first Grdic said he thought someone was filming a television commercial, then, after a quick peek between a slit in the tarps, Grdic saw Ryan Seacrest and recalled the radio notification of "American Idol" try-outs taking place in the city that day.
"As we started to tell the rest of our group that Ryan Seacrest was right here...BOOM, the doors opened, and Ryan came walking out with a young man...who had the recognizable logo name tag on his shirt," Grdic said.
Seacrest and the contestant were followed by a film crew. Grdic said the young contestant, Mawuena Kodjo, had been rejected by the judges and said he could prove them wrong. Idol judge Randy Jackson, according to Grdic, told the young man to go find someone who agreed with him. That led Seacrest and Kodjo outside where Grdic and the girls were standing.
Lily Grdic, 8, a third-grader at CH Campbell, her sister Kate, 7, a first-grader at CH, and Canfield Middle School seventh-grader Ally Lambert, 12, were approached by the camera crew and asked to join another girl and older gentleman to serve as Kodjo's impromptu audience. Before anyone realized what was happened, the girls were ushered inside and in front of the "American Idol" judges. The girls were asked by the judges if Kodjo should get a ticket to Hollywood.
"The judges asked the girls if they thought he was good, and God bless 'em, the girls were too polite to state the obvious... and shyly agreed 'yes' he should get a second chance," Grdic said.
The girls were filmed and Kodjo performed again. Afterwards the three girls with their exciting vacation story returned home for the start of school.
Fast-forwarding to January, and the girls were crowded around the television for the "American Idol" two-hour premiere. The first hour had nothing, but the second hour brought the memories of summer vacation back quickly. The girls saw themselves on the television screen for a three minute segment. Since the airing, the girls have been the subjects of comments on all the big entertainment websites where they have become known as "the cute little blonde girls," Grdic said.
"What we were most proud of though was that unanimously, the reporters that mentioned Mawuena all noted that the "cute little girls" that were brought in were very polite," he said. "And how endearing they were to be so polite. How they could not be mean to Mawuena. How they didn't have the heart to agree that he wasn't very good."