Heejun Han can count on his alma mater to keep him in the running in one of the biggest singing competitions in the nation.
The 22-year-old “American Idol” contestant from Flushing survived to advance to the show’s top nine last week, although not without landing in the bottom three for the first time this season.
Now, it’s up to Francis Lewis High School — where Han graduated in 2007 — to secure his seat to the end.
“There’s a lot of energy inside the school. We want him to win because he’s one of us,” said junior Nina Pierre.
An electronic display board outside the Fresh Meadows school reads “Congratulations To Heejun Han. Class of 2007. American Idol Finalist!” And every day — during second and ninth period — Pierre said the school gets on the loudspeaker to announce Han’s progress.
“We make sure to tell everyone to watch and vote and make him the next American Idol,” said Principal Musa Ali Shama. “We’re all very excited about this whole thing. It’s a great community item to share. A student from our school is on ‘American Idol.’ We’re really having fun with it.”
Alumnus Vincenzo Fiorito said he and Han were teammates on the school’s varsity soccer team — and they often shared a bench together.
“We both sucked at soccer, but he was a funny kid,” Fiorito said.
Although the superstar now sings weekly for an audience of millions, school officials said he was not involved in musical programs, and he never took part in a school play.
Richard Hyman, a music teacher at Francis Lewis and head of the school’s chorus and choir teams, said Han took one college-level music theory course with him, but it involved no vocal performances.
“I had no idea he could sing,” Fiorito said.
Han told the Courier last week that he only auditioned for the show as a means to propagate his organization — a group called Milal that assists special needs children. He told judges during his audition that he had never received professional vocal training, and that singing was only a mere hobby.
“That makes me feel more confident about my singing because if he could do it, I could do it too,” Pierre said.
Other students at the school said they were feeling the Heejun Han hysteria.
“It’s pretty cool that someone from our school could actually be representing us on such a big thing like ‘American Idol.’ It really shows Francis Lewis off,” said junior Naib Chowdhury, who said he casts a vote for Han each week. “Hopefully, he gets to the top. He can count on my vote.”
Han has now advanced as far as last year’s Queens contestant, Pia Toscano.
The top nine will perform again on Wednesday, March 28 at 8 p.m. on Fox 5.
Check back with www.queenscourier.com to see if he made it to next round.
– With additional reporting by Billy Rennison and Alexa Altman