BEVERLY — Angie Miller found out what it meant to be an American idol in her hometown Saturday afternoon.
Her first grade teacher Fran Ridge waved a photo of her 2001 class at Centerville Elementary School. Standing in the top row directly next to a large sign that said “success” was Miller, the Beverly native recently named as one of the top three contestants on Fox’s hit show “American Idol.”
And success is what Miller has earned, inspiring thousands of Beverly fans young and old.
“I’m so excited and so proud,” Ridge said. “I was trembling watching the TV . . . I always tell my kids to dream big. She’s such a wonderful role model.”
Miller, 19, returned here for a day of events celebrating her achievement, including a parade down Cabot Street and a free concert at Beverly High School.
The “Idol” contestant made her first stop at her elementary school to take photos with her young fans. Most of the students, who ranged from kindergarters to fifth graders, were wearing black T-shirts that said “Team Angie” in orange letters.
Miller said she was overwhelmed and in shock at the support she was getting from those at the school and throughout her hometown.
The biggest joy of being home, Miller added, was seeing her friends and family who have supported her from the start.
“It’s amazing just being able to see all my friends who have been there since day one, and my family who have been there from day one,” Miller said. “It’s not only the fans but my family that I get to see, and say hi to, and hug and that’s huge.”
Following the meet-and-greet at Centerville Elementary School, Miller hopped into a white Ford Mustang convertible to parade down Cabot Street to Beverly High School. There she was presented with the key to the city by Mayor William F. Scanlon Jr.
Priscilla Faletra, 41, whose young daughter attended Centerville Elementary School, held a star-shaped sign for Miller on Cabot Street and spoke of the inspiration that she has instilled in the city.
“It’s wonderful,” Faletra said. “It shows you anyone can become a star with hard work and determination. It’s such a great experience for us.”
Following the festive parade, Miller performed at Beverly High School in front of a crowd of more than 6,000.
Regardless of how the “American Idol” competition ends, Miller, who embraces the motto “Dream Big,” said she has learned about herself both musically and as a person.
“I’ve established myself as a person more and I feel like that’s such an important thing in this competition,” she said. “I feel like that’s one of the most important things. I know who I am more and I’m excited to go out there and show myself as an artist. I’m excited.”Terri Ogan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.