Whiz Kid: A 'Rising Star' Walks Among Us

Junior Adam Zeph competes at Ruth Eckerd Hall for a $7,000 Walker's Rising Star performing arts scholarship on May 23.

Whiz Kid of the Week:

  • Name and Age: Adam Zeph, 16, junior
  • School:
  • Whiz Kid's Accomplishment: Adam Zeph is one of 29 finalists in the Pinellas Education Foundation Walker’s Rising Stars scholarship competition, a prestigious and highly coveted performing arts scholarship ($7,000). More than 100 students countywide auditioned in six different performing arts categories (vocal, drama, dance, instrumentals, visual arts and movie making). Zeph received a callback for his performance in the drama and vocal categories in February. He advanced to finals in drama.

    “It’s the best of the best in Pinellas County,” Zeph said.
  • Key to Awesomeness: Zeph never would have guessed that his humble role as a sheep in the little Espiritu Santo Catholic School Christmas play would spark his burning performing arts ambition.

    Zeph said as an eighth-grader, he was talked into auditioning for lead character Leon in “The Next Noel.” At the last minute, the play was down one sheep, so Zeph stepped in and really “hammed it up,” he said. The audience reaction completely hooked him on a career in the performing arts.

    He’s been chasing down his dream ever since. Zeph dove into vocal, piano and dance.

    “Life has been taken over by this whole performing arts thing,” he said. “The world needs entertainment. … If I get to Broadway, I have dreams of being on Saturday Night Live.”

    Zeph also achieved his Eagle Scout rank in September. Even his Eagle Scout project oozed passion for the performing arts. He made safety modifications to the outdoor stage at Moccasin Lake Nature Park in Clearwater, adding a stair up to the stage, a safety railing and two stage extensions to make the it look bigger. “It took about a year of my life,” he said, and he applies the lessons learned to his acting dream. “People will deny you, but eventually you’ll find someone who will donate (to the service project). It’s like that in the performing arts,” he said, referring to auditioning for roles.

    Zeph spent last summer at an Oklahoma City University performing arts camp, where he was immersed in performing shows, dance, music theory, musical production, etc. He plans to return this summer.

    Today (May16) is the last day to vote for your fan favorites in the Walker’s Rising Stars competition. The student with the most votes gets a prize. Vote for Zeph here.

    The Walker’s Rising Stars competition and performance is Monday (May 23) at Ruth Eckerd Hall from 7 to 9 p.m. The student with the most audience turnout also gets a prize.

    Tickets are $12, or $10 in advance. Students and seniors are $5. Purchase them online here.

Know a great kid who made Eagle Scout or did your local soccer team take the championship? They could be our next Patch Whiz Kid honoree. Nominate your Whiz Kid by emailing editor Katie Dolac at Kathryn.Dolac@patch.com.


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