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Celebrations mark return of Lynn singing sensation

LYNN – Amanda Mena played to the crowd and posed for pictures like the star she is on her way to becoming during a welcome home party at the Lynn YMCA Wednesday.”Thank you everyone who supported me so I could bring this trophy back to Lynn,” said the 11-year-old singer, hefting the nearly 10-pound silver trophy she picked up after winning “La Voz Kids” Sunday.Amanda said she got home Tuesday after doing more than 20 interviews in the two days following her win. On Wednesday she went first to Cobbet Elementary School where, when she’s not competing in the Spanish kids version of the talent show “The Voice,” she’s finishing fifth grade.Amanda may have won a $50,000 scholarship and a recording contract, but she did not get out of taking her science MCAS.”They flew her back to take the science MCAS, then flew her back down (to Florida) to compete,” said Cobbet School Principal Susanne Garrity. “They were true to their word.”Sitting in Garrity’s office Wednesday, Mena said she has always loved to sing. After watching the first season of “La Voz” and at the urging of her mother, Amanda said she made an audition tape in the Lynn Music Studio Clubhouse in the Lynn YMCA. That got her a trip to a casting call in New York.”I didn’t think I would win,” she said, referring to the casting call. “There were too many kids and they could all sing, but you have to trust yourself.”Amanda sang her way from New York to the stage in Orlando, Fla., where she competed against 18 other contestants whom she said now considers her friends.”I was right out of school and about to go to the library when my mom called and said they picked me,” she said. “I started screaming in the middle of the street. I’m sure people thought I was crazy.”She spent two weeks in Florida in January then left again right after taking the math MCAS in May, Garrity said. In the middle of competing, however, Telemundo flew Amanda home to take her science MCAS. She also received three hours of tutoring a day, along with the other contestants, so she wouldn’t fall behind in school.Amanda set the bar the first night of competition when she was chosen by all three judges during a blind audition. She said that gave her the option of choosing who would be her musical coach during the show, Roberto Tapia, Natalia Jiminez and Prince Royce.”I wanted Tapia but something said go with Royce,” she said. “He’s my type of person.”Prince Royce has actually performed in Lynn and is familiar with the area. When asked how he was as a mentor Mena raised her eyebrows coyly and said, “Let’s just say he’s handsome ? he’s crazy but the good crazy, my type of crazy.”He chose the songs and he chose to straighten her hair, ironing out her massive curls, which a number of people, including Superintendent Catherine Latham, said they missed.Mena said there was one point in the show when she thought she might have blown her chances of winning.”When I sang ?Halo,'” she said. “I thought I should have moved more, I saw it on television and I thought, ?I blew it, I blew it, I blew it.'”When they called her name as the winner, she thought it was a mistake.”I was looking down going ?please, please, please,’ and when they called my name, I thought they called someone else,” she said. “It was so, so amazing.”She said the explosions of lights and confetti that went off around her startled her but she got past it quickly and rode the wave.Wednesday she was still riding the wave of energy born of excitement.”I haven’t slept in four years,” she said. “I don’t want it to stop, I just want it to keep going.”Amanda performed “I’ll Be There” at Cobbet for her friends, students and staffers and Kelly Clarkson’s “Because of You” at the party at the YMCA.She was also sung to when the Cobbet Choir, which warmed up the crowd for Amanda with a traditional folk song, broke out in Imagine Dragons “It’s Time,” for Amanda who joined in.Music teacher Sara Allen said they picked the Imagine Dragons song because of the line, “I don’t ever

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