NCI ARTworks 5th Annual Mad Hatter Ball to honor area students


PERU - Student honorees representing LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam counties will perform and present their work at the North Central Illinois (NCI) ARTworks 5th Annual Mad Hatter Ball on Friday, Nov. 19 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Auditorium Ballroom, 109 Wright St., LaSalle. This year’s honorees include two Mendota High School students, Jamie Dooley and Jacob Ensor.

Jamie Dooley, a junior at Mendota High School and daughter of EmLee and Daniel Dooley of West Brooklyn, will present several works of original art. She is currently in the art program at school under the tutelage of Brock Sondgeroth and enjoys working most in graphite pencil or clay. “I enjoy the way most people react when they see all of the things that I’ve had fun making and I find it fun to create wherever I want with what is at my disposal,” she said.

Jamie also is active in the Interact Club at school and plans to pursue a career as an English Language Learner (ELL) teacher with hopes of teaching abroad.

Jacob Ensor will present a trombone performance. He is a junior at Mendota High School and the son of Andrea and Chad Ensor. At school, he is active in the music programs as a member of the band under the direction of Paula Baker, and in the choir and Madrigals conducted by John Steben. He has been chosen for District 2 ILMEA and is active in a variety of sports including football, golf and bowling. “I enjoy how music creates friendships,” he said.

Jacob plans to attend Illinois Valley Community College and then transfer to a college for a degree in music.

Other students selected this year are Izzy Cacciatori, Hall High School; Catherine Engels, LaSalle-Peru Township High School; Emelia Grant, Putnam County High School; Zoe Kidd, LaSalle-Peru Township High School; and Allie Snyder, Ottawa Township High School.

Izzy Cacciatori will present several works of original art. She is a junior at Hall High School and is the daughter of Amy and Justin Cacciatori. At school, she participates in the Devilettes dance team and student council. She has created paintings and drawings for seven years and her teachers include Hugo Heredia and Mary Janusick. One fun fact: she loves to create art but has a talent for painting. She loves seeing her parents’ faces when she brings home her newest work of art.

Catherine Engels will present a flute performance. A senior at LaSalle-Peru Township High School, she is the daughter of Amber and Brian Engels of LaSalle. At school, she is a section leader and plays flute in the Wind Ensemble, marching band and pit bands. She has been selected for District 2 Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) at both the junior and senior levels and an All-State musician in her sophomore year, and has received superior ratings at solo and ensemble contests. She also plays with the Illinois Valley Flute Ensemble, has received honorable mention and runner-up honors in the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra (IVSO) Young Performers competitions and has participated in the Annual Summer Flute Retreat performing in the masterclass of Gerald Carey, flute professor emeritus at Western Illinois University. She has studied flute with Sue Gillio since age five, is on the high school varsity tennis team, and plans to attend Lewis University and pursue an aviation career as a pilot.

Emelia Grant will present several works of visual art. A sophomore at Putnam County High school, she is the daughter of Lisa and Tom Grant of Hennepin. She has been creating art for nine years under the instruction of Mary Janusick at Music Suite 408. She also participates in cheerleading at school. “What I love about doing art is that it gives me the freedom to express myself in different ways,” she said. “I think art is important because it allows people to tell a story without words to express their thoughts and feelings. My interest in art developed after doing my first painting and art projects with Mary. In the future, I would like to do something with graphic design.”

Zoe Kidd, a junior at LaSalle-Peru Township High School and the daughter of Kim and Steve Kidd of LaSalle, will present a vocal performance. At L-P, she is in the Concert Choir and Chamber Choir under the direction of Matthew Butler and has performed in the spring musicals and in Stage 212 productions. Currently she studies with Jenilyn Roether at Music Suite 408. “Music is a very fun way to spend my time and to me it feels like I will never be out of ways to explore it,” she said.

Zoe plans to attend an in-state college and will pursue a psychology degree.

Alexandria “Allie” Snyder will present a clarinet performance. She is a senior at Ottawa Township High School and the daughter of Cindy and Chris Snyder. She has been playing the clarinet for eight years under the direction and instruction of Andrew Jacobi, Tom Makeever and Emily Gallagher. She played in the ILMEA district band in 2018 and 2020 and in its All-State band in 2020. At school, she is involved in volleyball, track, Rotary Interact, and Honors Society. Her favorite thing about music is “that special feeling of sharing music with my friends and community,” and “hearing the assembly of the parts as they come together completing the vision of the composer.” Allie plans to attend a four-year university and study biology with a minor in music.

“The Mad Hatter Ball is the regional equivalent of a state championship of the arts, where topnotch local talent is honored, great food is eaten, and prizes and music and fun fill up the evening,” said Julia Messina, executive director of NCI ARTworks. “This event showcases local student performers in all of the arts: visual, music, performing, literary, etc.”

Dinner music will be provided by Al & Jeannie Brown, Guys on the Radio will DJ and the Mad Hatter will emcee the event, during which the Queen of the Arts will be crowned for the fifth year in a row. Tickets cost $35 and are available online at or by calling (815) 228-1253.