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Oxford High School shooting survivor wows judges on 'America's Got Talent'

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

An Oxford teen who survived last fall's mass shooting at Oxford High School that took the lives of four of her classmates is moving on to the next round of NBC's hit talent show, "America's Got Talent," and sharing her story along the way.

Ava Swiss, who was a senior at the high school last school year, wowed the judges Tuesday with her performance of Christian singer Lauren Daigle's "Remember," a song she said she chose because of the shooting. The audience gave her a standing ovation and all four judges voted to move her to the next round. 

Ava Swiss, a former Oxford High School student, is competing on Season 17 of NBC's "America's Got Talent."

"In life, it's tough to show up, especially after going through incredible trauma," said judge Howie Mandel. "The fact that you can break through that and shine the way you did today is so inspirational for every human being. So you really shine. That was wonderful."

Judge Simon Cowell called Swiss "gutsy."

"This is one of those auditions I'll never forget," he said. "On top of that, you've got a great voice."

Before her audition, Swiss said music has been therapeutic in the aftermath of the Nov. 30 shooting, which also injured seven students and a teacher. She said she and her brother, also a student at Oxford High School, had pledged to never set foot back in the building afterward.

"But we've actually been back in person for two months now and things are getting better," she said.

Judge Sofia Vergara said Swiss's song was the perfect choice.

"You took my breath away," Vergara said. "...You were not just singing. You were showing us your feelings. It gave me goosebumps."

On social media, Swiss, who also has performed at other venues across Metro Detroit, including singing the national anthem before a Pistons game, called her audition a moment she'll never forget.

She called it "the moment I’ve been dreaming for ever since I was little."

"America's Got Talent," now in its 17th season, airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on WDIV.