+
upworthy
Pop Culture

School shooting survivor delivers heartbreaking performance on 'America's Got Talent'

She honored her community in a big way.

ava swiss agt, ava swiss singing

A beautiful tribute to those taken too soon.

Sometimes the best part about watching “America’s Got Talent” isn’t seeing extraordinary performances—it’s witnessing extraordinary courage.

Eighteen-year-old Ava Swiss displayed both talent and courage with her breathtaking rendition of “Remember” by Lauren Daigle. Swiss’ vocal chops and stage presence were certainly enough to make a lasting impression. But the reason behind her song choice made it all the more impactful.

“I chose this song because back on November 30, my brother and I were a part of the Oxford school shooting,” Swiss told judge Simon Cowell. “We lost four of our students, and seven others were injured, one of which was a teacher.”

In an exclusive interview with People, Swiss shared that she had been close friends with 17-year-old Justin Shilling, one of the four students killed. The trauma of such loss and surviving a harrowing (though sadly, not unimaginable) experience made the thought of going back to school seem impossible.

“It’s been hard. I remember my brother and I, we were talking to each other, and we said, ‘There’s no way we’re ever stepping foot back in the school,’” she told the judges.

The high school senior’s audition had been filmed prior to the recent series of public shootings across America. It’s heartbreaking that these tragedies have become so common, no question.

But as Swiss demonstrates, resilience can be immensely healing. Swiss added that she and her brother had been back at school for about two months … all before singing so powerfully she was met with a standing ovation.

Mandel told her. “The fact that you can break through that, and shine the way you did today, is so inspirational for every human being.”

This was, of course, before receiving a unanimous “yes” to move onto the next round of the competition.

If the resounding praise from all four judges wasn’t enough, fellow students of Oxford High sent a flood of loving comments to the video posted on YouTube as well. One student wrote:

“Hi another student from Oxford high school, this performance will stay on repeat in my head for years to come. It was extraordinary and so beautiful it gave me chills down to the bone. This was something I didn’t know I needed, it made me cry a lot but also gave me a lot of strength. I’m so proud of our community and of Ava for sharing her voice with us and the world and making our healing process a little less rough. Stay strong Oxford.”

It’s not easy to get up on stage and bare your soul, especially after trauma. Swiss’ performance was a big win before she hit a single note.

Tony Trapani discovers a letter his wife hid from him since 1959.

Tony Trapani and his wife were married for 50 years despite the heartache of being unable to have children. "She wanted children,” Trapani told Fox 17. "She couldn't have any. She tried and tried." Even though they endured the pain of infertility, Tony's love for his wife never wavered and he cherished every moment they spent together.

After his wife passed away when Tony was 81 years old, he undertook the heartbreaking task of sorting out all of her belongings. That’s when he stumbled upon a carefully concealed letter in a filing cabinet hidden for over half a century.

The letter was addressed to Tony and dated March 1959, but this was the first time he had seen it. His wife must have opened it, read it and hid it from him. The letter came from Shirley Childress, a woman Tony had once been close with before his marriage. She reached out, reminiscing about their past and revealing a secret that would change Tony's world forever.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Bambi Corro on Unsplash

Can flying to college twice a week really be cheaper than renting?

Some students choose to live at home while they go to college to save money on living expenses, but that's generally only an option for families who live in college towns or cities with large universities where a student can easily commute.

For University of British Columbia student Tim Chen, that "easy commute" is more than 400 miles each way.

Twice a week, Chen hops on a flight from his home city of Calgary, flies a little more than an hour to Vancouver to attend his classes, then flies back home the same night. And though it's hard to believe, this routine actually saves him approximately $1,000 a month.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Dad takes 7-week paternity leave after his second child is born and is stunned by the results

"These past seven weeks really opened up my eyes on how the household has actually ran, and 110% of that is because of my wife."

@ustheremingtons/TikTok

There's a lot to be gleaned from this.

Participating in paternity leave offers fathers so much more than an opportunity to bond with their new kids. It also allows them to help around the house and take on domestic responsibilities that many new mothers have to face alone…while also tending to a newborn.

All in all, it enables couples to handle the daunting new chapter as a team, making it less stressful on both parties. Or at least equally stressful on both parties. Democracy!

TikTok creator and dad Caleb Remington, from the popular account @ustheremingtons, confesses that for baby number one, he wasn’t able to take a “single day of paternity leave.”

This time around, for baby number two, Remington had the privilege of taking seven weeks off (to be clear—his employer offered four weeks, and he used an additional three weeks of PTO).

The time off changed Remington’s entire outlook on parenting, and his insights are something all parents could probably use.

Keep ReadingShow less
Internet

Man goes out of his way to leave tip for a server after realizing he grabbed the wrong receipt

Instead of just brushing it off and moving on, the man wrote out a note explaining what happened with a sincere apology along with a $20 cash tip and delivered it to the restaurant.

Man goes out of his way to leave forgotten tip for server

Being in the service industry can be hard. People have to spend long hours on their feet, deal with repetitive movements that can create pain and sometimes interact with not so nice customers. When you rely on tips for survival on top of everything else, it can feel like a bit of a gut punch when someone decides not to leave you one despite how good your service was.

One customer must've realized the disappointment that can occur after not receiving a tip when serving tables because he went out of his way to give one. In a post shared on Reddit, a customer revealed in a letter that he realized he took the wrong receipt after leaving. Instead of taking the blank one, he took the merchant's copy which holds the tip amount and his signature.

The error was discovered when he was checking his bank account and saw the amount taken off of his card was not the amount he expected. That's when he decided to check the receipt from that day and saw the error.

Keep ReadingShow less
Science

Scientists have finally figured out how whales are able to 'sing' underwater

The physical mechanism they use has been a mystery until now.

Baleen whales include blue, humpback, gray, fin, sei, minke whales and more.

We've long known that baleen whales sing underwater and that males sing in tropical waters to attract females for mating. What we haven't known is how they're able to do it.

When humans make sound underwater, we expel air over through our vocal chords and the air we release rises to the surface as bubbles. But baleen whales don't have vocal chords, and they don't create bubbles when they vocalize. Toothed whales, such as sperm whales, beaked whales, dolphins and porpoises, have an organ in their nasal passages that allows them to vocalize, but baleen whales such as humpback, gray and blue whales don't.

Whales are notoriously difficult to study because of their size and the environment they require, which is why the mechanism behind whale song has remained a mystery for so long. It's not like scientists can just pluck a whale out of the ocean and stick it in an x-ray machine while it's singing to see what's happening inside its body to create the sound. Scientists had theories, but no one really knew how baleen whales sing.

Now, thanks to researchers at the University of Denmark, that mystery has been solved.

Keep ReadingShow less

You can learn a lot by alayzing faces.

There are countless situations in life where we have to figure out how someone really feels, but they have a good poker face that keeps their feelings well-hidden. According to body language expert Terry Vaughan even the most deceptive people in the world have a tell: the left and right sides of their face don’t usually match.

So, which side do we believe? Vaughan says the left.

“The reason this is a powerful hack is because the left side of the face is more likely to reveal the ‘true emotion’ or the ‘dominant’ emotion if there’s a mix,” Vaughan says. The reason? “The right hemisphere of our brain does more heavy lifting in dealing with processing emotions. The left hemisphere…is a little more analytical or ‘strategic.’”

Keep ReadingShow less