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Youth Center student wins Air Force award
Col. Manson Morris, 436th Airlift Wing commander, shakes hands with Andrew Bratcher as he receives his award for placing first in the Year of the Air Force Family "You Got Talent" competition. Andrew, 11, was with his parents, Perry and Noriko Bratcher at the Presentation at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Sept. 29, 2010. Andrew won the award for placing first in the solo instrumental category age nine to 12 for the Air Force-level competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jason Minto/Released)
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Youth Center student wins Air Force award

Posted 10/1/2010   Updated 10/1/2010 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Matthew Hubby
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

10/1/2010 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- It's not very often a military child gets the opportunity to be recognized by the Air Force for their talent.

But Andrew Bratcher, 11, son Perry and Noriko Bratcher, did just that. He was awarded first place in the nine - 12 age bracket for the Year of the Air Force Family "You Got Talent" program's Air Force-level competition for solo instrumental.

"It was exciting and a little surprising, finding out I won," said Bratcher. "I wasn't expecting to win. I found out while I was at swim team practice, my mom came and picked me up, and she said she had good news for me. That's when she told me I had won the talent contest out of the whole Air Force. I've been playing piano for about four years now, and I really plan on taking it further after this."

Andrew played Polonaise in G minor and Waltz in A minor by Frédéric Chopin, for his submission to the You Got Talent competition. He practices for half-an-hour every day, or more if he has a competition or recital scheduled. He enjoys playing and listening to classical music, and is not a big fan of other music.

Andrew's mother, Noriko, was just as surprised as he was at the news.

"When I got the call from the Youth Center I couldn't believe it," she said. "He's always been a very good musician, he likes Chopin a lot, and right now he's practicing Chopin's Valse, and Grieg's March of the Dwarves. He also plays clarinet in the school band, and he can't wait to get to high school so he can be in marching band."

Bratcher was one of eight children who entered the contest from the base, but the only one to make it all the way. After winning first place locally, the Youth Center submitted a video of his competition up to Air Mobility Command, who in turn submitted it to the Air Force.

"We got the notice via e-mail," said Kristy Grove, 436th Force Support Squadron teen coordinator. "Because this was an Air Force-level award, we felt he needed to be recognized in a formal setting, so we spoke to the FSS secretary and from there worked with the wing to get him that recognition."

Andrew was awarded a certificate and a $200 Army and Air Force Exchange Services gift card . He may also have the opportunity to perform with Tops in Blue when they come to Dover AFB in November.

"We set up a dress rehearsal for our local first place winners, so they weren't going into the next leg of the competition unprepared," said Patti Porter, 436th FSS Youth Center director. "We recorded all of their acts and forwarded the DVDs up to AMC headquarters; from there it was just playing the waiting game and hoping for a reply. We knew we had some winners in our group of kids, we're really proud of Andrew."

Andrew will also be headlining the Youth Center's performing arts event being held in November.

"Andrew has a lot of parental support for his talents," said Mrs. Porter. "It's good to see our children at the Youth Center with that much support. We hope to keep hearing great things from our kids."

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