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Fame and stardom on the horizon Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, May 19 2012 12:00 PM

When is it acceptable for a man in his 50s to stand in the middle of a high school campus and shout  “I love you” at a 16-year-old girl he doesn’t know?

When he’s surrounded by other men — and women and children — doing the same thing. And that girl is a pop star in the making.

Last Saturday’s welcome homecoming rally and mini-concert for Chula Vista darling Jessica Sanchez was a catharsis of sorts.

For weeks “American Idol” fans and Jessica Sanchez boosters have been partying at eastside eateries, coming together to send good joojoo toward Hollywood in hopes that Jessica would advance to the next round of the singing competition. When Jessica made the top three, you could almost feel a collective sigh of relief passing through the city. All the positivity must have paid off.

The city’s mayor, Cheryl Cox, had to be happy. With Jessica’s homecoming to be televised to a national audience it was an opportunity to showcase her city’s brighter side.

Cox, along with other city officials and business leaders, have been smarting over long ago remarks in Forbes and Vanity Fair describing Chula Vista as boring and a sputtering neon error. Scenes of exuberant fans crowding a high school stadium and cheering for a local girl would mean good press for a struggling city. And maybe a boost to tourism.

So for a few hours on a May morning, thousands of people gathered to celebrate the success of a tiny home-schooled girl who last year was barely known to anyone outside her immediate circle. To an extent, her accomplishments were theirs.

Jessica’s life is now extraordinarily different than that of her contemporaries. That’s an almost painfully trite and obvious observation. But it’s fitting.

On Wednesday she told “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest that not long ago she was considered a dork and that boys didn’t know she existed. But last Saturday she had boys running after her car in a parade, she laughed.

As most 16- and 17-year-old girls prepare for final exams, high school graduation or summer recess, Jessica will be preparing for a summer concert tour, recording sessions and fame.

She will be adulated and gushed over. Praised and idolized. Watched and scrutinized.
Jessica Sanchez will embark on her dream of achieving stardom, where women, children and grown men she doesn’t know scream out “I love you!”

It’s what she has wanted her whole life.

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