Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

MEO Idol Rocks The Night Away

The Message photos by Tim Lilley

For the eighth year, the Marian Education Outreach Tri-State IDOL Gala provided an evening of entertainment and talent. Three acts performed for the annual talent competition benefiting students who learn differently in the Evansville Catholic Diocesan schools.


“Marion Educational Outreach IDOL has come a long way, and so has our program,” said Beverly Williamson, director of MEO. “We feel so honored to be able to serve the families. MEO is an organization that really is an advocate.  We advocate for whatever is best for children with special needs and those who learn differently in the Evansville Catholic Diocese.”


When MEO launched the first Tri-State IDOL competition, it was held in a room that accommodated a little over 100 people, the event raised over $20,000 for students with special learning needs in the Diocese of Evansville. The eighth MEO IDOL, held April 7 at St. Vincent Manor in Evansville, had an audience of more than 275 people and raised $27,000 during the fund-an-item portion of the evening alone.


This year’s fund-an-item project supports Westside Catholic School’s growing special-education program. With the funds raised at the gala, WCS will begin the process of developing a program similar to what has previously been developed on the east side of Evansville at Annunciation Parish Holy Spirit Campus. Students with special needs will have the opportunity to attend Catholic school and enjoy innovations such as exposure to technology, sensory integration, and access to Minds in Motion labs.


Danielle Carter, principal of Westside Catholic School in Evansville, and WCS Special-Education teachers Kelsey Whitehead, Kristen Arnold and Jessica Wilson gave their testimonial on how important it is to grow programs to assist students with special learning needs.


“I know I can speak for everyone involved with WCS and St. Boniface Parish how immensely honored we are for this opportunity,” said Carter. “This will allow us to help our special education program grow and our school grow as a whole.”


One of the first initiatives of the program would be the addition of a sensory integration room, which allows students to focus and have a space to calm themselves before entering a class or complete an assignment that might trigger anxiety.  The goal is to make it possible for families with diverse learners wanting a Catholic education to be successful at school.


At the end of the evening, the band known as “Not Bad” was announced as this year’s winners. The band, composed of Reitz Memorial High School students Dakota East on vocals, Sam Brockman on guitar, Isaac Wetzel on bass and Jarret Beurman on drums, played “Tighten Up” by the Black Keys. The band has performed together for two years.  


Other finalists included the duet of Mater Dei students Julia Knight and Caitlin Pellant, who performed “Landslide” by Stevie Nicks, and Reitz Memorial High School sophomore Grace Poole, who performed “Someone Like You” by Adele. This was the second year as finalists for both Knight and Poole.


Marian Educational Outreach is a ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Evansville committed to providing opportunities for students with unique learning needs to reach their highest potential while remaining in the Catholic school system.  For more information, please contact MEO Executive Director Bev Williamson at