A night of exquisite dance and musical performance from local high school students was interrupted by an odd political moment at Monday night’s DC CAP-ital Stars Gala.
Midway through the Kennedy Center event to benefit the D.C. College Access Program, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., was honored by the board for his support of education in the Senate. While Blunt was being introduced, an audience member shouted, “Blunt is the devil.” A tense moment passed without comment before the ceremony continued. As Blunt took the stage, the heckler loudly booed.
Blunt made headlines last month for sponsoring an amendment to the Obama administration’s new contraception coverage rule that would have exempted employers from covering any health care services on moral grounds. The Senate narrowly rejected the amendment last week, 51 to 48. Blunt did not acknowledge the booing.
Argelia Rodriguez, president and CEO of DC-CAP, said she “sort of heard” the heckling but “it didn’t faze me.”
“No one said a word to me,” she said. “I think everyone sort of dismissed it. We just moved on.”
The 10 students who competed in the night’s scholarship competition certainly acted unfazed by the moment. Judges Debbie Allen, Rickey Minor, and Dionne Warwick presided over a rousing round of song, dance, and instrumental virtuosity that occasionally left them speechless. “You know what?” Warwick told Washington Latin Public Charter School junior Kenneth Vallis after his mesmerizing dance. “You’re fascinating. How did you do that?”
The $10,000 first-place college scholarship went to Duke Ellington senior Niya Norwood for a smashing vocal performance; second-place $6,000 to another Duke Ellington senior, Corbin Johnson, for his drum solo; and the third-place $4,000 prize went to Wilson High School freshman singer Paris McMillian. All finalists and semi-finalists also walked away with scholarships. Sweetening the pot — two DC-CAP board members surprised the students at the afterparty by doubling everyone’s prize money.