Maddie Poppe from Clarksville, Iowa has captured the heart of hundreds of thousands with her performances on ABC’s American Idol. Tuesday, she returned to her home town as an Idol finalist, was treated to a parade and pep rally in her honor, and filled the grandstand at the Butler County Fairgrounds with adoring fans of her music.
Those fans include Chris Arians, formerly of Clear Lake, who taught Maddie in the Clarksville school system. Arians, who has since moved on to Central Springs schools, said he is not completely surprised by her success.
“As for knowing if she was a star back then, I always knew she was talented and motivated. She works very hard and has a lot of talent. Overall, I’m most proud of her, not for how far she’s got, but for trying out again. In 2016, Maddie auditioned for The Voice (NBC) and got rejected in front of over 13 million people. And to be honest, most students would have quit at that point in her career, so to see her have the guts to try out again made me way proud of her!” said Arians.
He added that while he is excited for Maddie, he is also pleased that her whole family has shared in the experience. Chris worked with Maddie’s mother, Tonya, who is a guidance counselor for Clarksville schools. He also taught both of Maddie’s sisters during his time at Clarksville.
Arians can attest to the fact that Maddie is as small-town Iowan as those nationwide imagine.
“I had her in World History and Government classes throughout her high school time. She also went on the Washington DC trip I led in 2014 and was a cheerleader for the football team (he was head coach).
As Poppe emerged from a small plane which landed at the Cedar Rapids Airport Tuesday her first thoughts were that it was good to be back home.
“I missed this so much. Where can you get peace and quiet like this? No where but Iowa,” she told media and others gathered to welcome her arrival. “When we were about to land I looked out and saw a river and I thought about all the little things here I miss so much.”