“She has made it so far and is so close. … It’s very exciting,” said Terri Vandiver, principal at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School.
Wednesday morning, students and faculty at LFO High spent part of the day gearing up for the night’s performance of their hometown hero by making signs for the concert and parade that could take place Saturday afternoon, if the 16-year-old sophomore makes the cut this week.
Lauren is a student at the school.
“Wednesdays and Thursdays get pretty exciting around here since all this started,” said Jarrett Stichler, a friend of Lauren and captain of the LFO band. “Every week people talk about her performance and how much they voted. It’s just been a great thing for the school and the whole town.”
On Wednesday night, Lauren sang “Anyway” by Martina McBride and “Trouble” by Elvis Presley, and received mostly glowing reviews from judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson. She dedicated “Anyway,” a song about overcoming obstacles, to her community back home in Georgia recovering from the tornadoes that hit the region.
Fan voting began Wednesday night after the show. The results of that vote will be revealed Thursday in a show that begins at 8 p.m.
If Lauren makes this week’s cut, she will be allowed to take part in “Idol’s” top 3 homecomings, which give each contestant’s hometown the opportunity to welcome its star home for a special concert and parade.
If voted through, she will take part in two concerts and parades Saturday.
Lauren will participate in a parade across Walnut Street Bridge into Coolidge Park in Chattanooga at about 10 a.m. At the park she will perform a few songs.
Then, she will ride in a parade at about 3 p.m. on Battlefield Parkway in Fort Oglethorpe, beginning at Office Depot at Cross Street and continuing to the high school, where she will perform some songs.
“We’re all excited and happy for her,” said Lauren’s brother Tyler Suddeth, a 17-year-old senior at LFO. “My birthday is later this month, so her winning the whole thing would be the best birthday present I could ever get.”
According to Tyler, life has changed somewhat since his little sister became a national celebrity, but it hasn’t affected him as much as most would think.
“It’s a little different. I get asked questions and stuff, and people tell me how proud they are of her and great she is. … Some people have been calling me ‘Hollywood’ for awhile now, but other than that, we’re just enjoying it,” he said.
Tyler also said he has traveled to Los Angeles a few times to attend some of the live shows and has plans to travel out for the finale if she makes it that far.
“She’s doing so great, and I hope it happens for her so that we can all be there to support her.”
After Lauren’s progress in the competition became public knowledge around the time her audition aired in the show’s pre-recorded episodes, the teen began to gain so much attention that it was difficult for her to attend her regular classes, said special education teacher Sherry Dunwoody.
“She helped us out with our Special Olympics this past year like she’s done since she was in elementary school,” Dunwoody said. “When the ‘Idol’ stuff really started getting big, she wasn’t able to go to her regular classes anymore, so she started coming to our special education classes and helping us with our students. All of our kids just love her to death.”
Dunwoody says that each week she tapes the Wednesday night episode and plays it for the class on Thursdays so they can see their classmate sing to the world.
“Those kids just go crazy for her,” Dunwoody said.