A signing event was recently held for seniors at Hayes High School who have made commitments to colleges, universities and the military.
Two of those students were Andrew Bourget, who signed a commitment to attend The Ohio State University to study music education, and Meredith Keller, who will attend Biola Univeristy in La Mirada, California, to major in voice performance.
Although he’s been passionate about music for years and has been in band through the school district for eight years, Bourget said he only recently decided to become a music teacher.
“I, of course, have had great passion for music for years,” Bourget said. “(I) was lucky enough to be taught by music teachers who share that passion, which is reflected in all that they do through many opportunities to play different styles of music and to help their students learn and grow through the years that they have us. But what really solidified my want to be a music teacher was a teaching opportunity I had this year.”
Bourget said the COVID-19 pandemic caused the Delaware Hayes High School Marching Band to be without a front ensemble director before the season started, and he stepped into the role and taught technique for the front ensemble.
“The front ensemble is the non-marching section of the band, primarily made up of mallet instruments like marimba and xylophone,” Bourget said. “That teaching opportunity showed me what it would be like to be a music teacher, and I really enjoyed it. Being able to see other students learn and get better was really rewarding.”
Bourget added his music teachers at Hayes were a huge influence on him.
“They foster learning and show us the level of passion they have for it,” he said. “Hearing them talk about music theory or music playing in a detailed, passionate way shows us that they care about it and encourages us to do the same.”
Bourget said he’s thankful for the music opportunities at Hayes and for the way teachers structure the music programs so that students can gain leadership experiences.
“(Those leadership opportunities) help us have a similar kind of role to what a teacher would,” he said. “That also helps everyone improve even more, and when you feel confident, you like what you’re doing even more.”
Bourget said he’s extend to attend college and continue to learn more about music. He also plans to have at least a minor in journalism.
Keller said she has been putting on a show of some kind since she was a kid.
“Ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed singing and performing around the house,” Keller said. “Whether it was putting on fashions shows in my basement with my sisters or singing along to ‘Hairspray,’ my favorite childhood musical. As I got older, I participated in every opportunity possible such as the Carlisle talent show, poetry jams at (then Willis Intermediate School), musicals, voice lessons with Dr. Jason Hiester at Ohio Wesleyan, and choirs lead by Dr. Dara Gillis at Hayes.”
Keller said the music program at Hayes is “top-notch,” and she’s thankful to have taken part in it.
“I have seen many musical productions around the state and none compare to the quality and professionalism of our shows,” she said. “The way the cast, crew, and pit come together to make beautiful shows naturally makes you demand more from yourself. Every actor in the show pushes each other to be better. We are equals. We are close friends and are taught to be professional performers from the second the cast list is posted.”
Keller added the direction given during the musicals by Gillis allowed students to develop their own interpretations of the characters, which helped her grow as a performer.
“In doing this, I have been able to tap into what it means to be a flying nanny (Mary Poppins), a quirky broadcaster (Chicago), and a caring mother of four daughters (Little Women), and so much more,” Keller said. “I want to thank all my music teachers (Jennifer) Ruhlen, (Pamela) Beery, (Tracy) Cinereski, Renee Simon, Dr. (Dara) Gillis and Dr. (Jason) Hiester, as well as the Delaware City Schools administration and our community for attending and supporting all of our productions.
Keller said she is looking forward to heading to the west coast to study music.
“I am very excited to be attending Biola University’s conservatory of music in the fall, where I can be immersed in a supportive artistic community,” she said. “Being in the LA area, I will have the opportunity to explore what it truly takes to be a performer. Hayes will always be a part of me.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.