FRUITLAND — There’s nothing like sharing a success story to inspire your students to persevere, as Fruitland Elementary School teacher Shannon Contreras has found. Contreras invited a former student of hers, Logan McDowall, 21, to sing several songs for students of the school.
In an interview with the newspaper on Friday, Contreras shared her reasons for inviting the Ontario native to sing for her students. You may remember McDowall for his performances on ABC’s “American Idol” this season and last.
“Logan was my first grader 16 years ago; I taught in Ontario at a christian school and he was just a really great kid that worked hard and tried hard,” said Contreras. “His family became very close to us. He became one of my son’s really good friends through their teenage years and we just stayed really close together.
Contreras said she continues to follow McDowall’s journey, because she sees in him qualities of perseverance which she tries to convey to her students. She claims to be his number one fan.
“Anything he was doing, I would make sure to announce to my friends or my social media and we would go and watch,” said Contreras. “He has always been determined; he doesn’t settle. Even as a little kid, missing one or two [answers] on a test wasn’t good enough for him … Whatever he puts his mind to, he fights really hard to accomplish it.”
Contreras said she counts herself as “very privileged” to know McDowall.
McDowall performed several songs for students, with second grade students watching in-person in the multi-purpose room, while the rest of the student body watched from inside their classrooms. It would serve as the first in-person assembly to be held on campus since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When asked why he accepted Contreras’ invitation to play for Fruitland Elementary, McDowall said in an interview with the newspaper he welcomed the opportunity as a means of giving back to one of his best supporters.
“I want to know that I’m letting all these kids and these families know that there’s no need to give up, regardless of circumstance or anything like that,” said McDowall of his message to Fruitland students. “If you just keep going, it’s worth it in the long shot.”
McDowall described the experience of competing on Idol as “insane.”
“My first go-round, I auditioned in Salt Lake City, Utah and that was kind of an open audition. I ended up being one of the three or four people who made it through that whole process,” said McDowall.
From there, he auditioned in front of the judges during their visit to Sunriver, Ore. before making it to Hollywood week of the show’s third season on ABC. He would end up cut that week, before returning this year at the behest of show producers for season four.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, of course,’” he recalled saying to producers. “Next thing I know, I was in San Diego, California playing in front of the judges again and then made it all the way up until the very end of Hollywood week.”
This time around, McDowall made it to the top 40 before again being eliminated from further competition.
“Music has always been a passion of mine; Wrote my first song when I was about eight years old.”
The song, titled “I’m Right Here,” was among the songs McDowall played for students.
McDowall described judges Katy Perry, Lionel Riche and Luke Bryan, and host Ryan Seacrest as not only down to earth people, but also very tall.
“They’re a lot taller, actually, than you’d think they are,” said McDowall. “Luke Bryan’s probably six-foot-four, which I didn’t even imagine … Everybody’s great, super nice. You’re always expecting celebrities to kind of be snobs or whatever, but they’re very down-to-earth people.”
He added that Richie is known around the set as “Papa Lionel,” and that Perry is about six feet tall.