When Chula Vista teen and “American Idol” contestant Jessica Sanchez survived yet another elimination round April 26, the 16-year-old singer made it into the show’s round of top five. Since then R&B singer Akon said he’d like to sign her to a record deal as soon as possible.
Along the way, Jessica’s fans and former teachers have been cheering her every success.
In an effort to keep up enthusiasm and support, family members threw a viewing and voting party at Eastlake Tavern & Bowl.
Fans of all ages, relatives and teachers packed the bar and restaurant Wednesday to watch her two performances.
Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox and Chula Vista Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan have been spotted at the viewing parties.
Last week Bensoussan said it was her first time at a viewing party.
“I voted 15 times last week,” she said. “She’s a rare talent. She’s phenomenal for her age and mature beyond her years.”
The Eastlake Middle School choir also showed up to sing two songs prior to the show’s airing, something they did recently at Oggi’s in Eastlake. Jessica was in the school’s choir during her eighth grade year.
Several teachers from Eastlake Middle School who previously taught Jessica also showed up to support the local inspiration.
Jessica, who says she has an alter ego while on stage named “BB Chez,” is otherwise a very shy and quiet individual, according to herself as well as past teachers.
English teacher Molly Keogh had Jessica during study hall.
“She was a great kid,” Keogh said of Jessica. “She sat toward the back and did all of her work.”
Tabitha Bump, an English teacher, was among several teachers who went to Hollywood after winning tickets on the radio to support Jessica and watch the show’s top 12 girls’ performances.
“She had such confidence,” Bump said. “She was really working the stage!”
Another teacher, Tara Taylor, taught Jessica in her power reading class.
“Jessica was really quiet and shy,” she said. “She was a great student … and gave great oral presentations.”
Eastlake Tavern’s general manager Raymond Ha said Jessica’s family contacted the business to put on an official viewing party.
Ha, 31, transferred from the downtown San Diego location three weeks ago.
“Supporting Jessica is really important because it gives the cities of San Diego and Chula Vista a sense of community,” he said.
Ha said he just recently became a fan of the show and voted for the first time last week.
“Going forward, we’re more than happy to support her and her family,” he said.