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Fine arts students share their experiences in different programs.


Sing ’til you drop

Musical composition comes to those with a special gift. Those who are born with a natural aptitude for the arts and everything abstract. Senior Griffin Wetzel is no stranger to the arts — he’s the Vice President of Choir — and he’s a part of Chorale and Encore, two challenging choir programs that require auditions for acceptance.

Wetzel’s high school choir career has been in action since middle school when he joined the choir in eighth grade. Since then, he’s been dedicated, singing and doing musical theatre to his heart’s content.

“I started a year later than everyone,” Wetzel said. “I started eighth grade because I thought you could only take it once in middle school. I’m in musical theater, so I take voice lessons outside of school.”

However, his love for singing and music hasn’t dwindled over the years, even with added stress from school and extracurriculars. Wetzel says choir is so much more than singing and harmonizing.

“Choir is so amazing,” Wetzel said. “It’s something about music and being in a group creates a lot of unity. So when you see someone from your choir in the halls, it is a very familiar face. It’s not the same as someone you have a class with because you create a relationship—a bond when singing together.”

Wetzel does sometimes wish Allen would provide more for the choir program, but at the same time, they aren’t neglected.

“I think [Allen] favors the sports just because of Texas,” Wetzel said. “Football is such a big part of Texas culture, but they definitely put a lot of money into the arts. However, they could put more. I feel like when I see other schools’ choir programs, they get to rent costumes and stuff, but we have that Performing Arts Center which is crazy. It’s always fun to show off.”

With graduating in mind, Wetzel says his participation in choir and musical theatre will have made all the difference in his high school experience.

“Choir will definitely have been worth it,” Wetzel said. “And I’ve been looking at schools— I want to go to school for musical theater, and I’ve been taking into consideration whether or not those schools will require me to be a part of the choir, and that’s the sort of the criteria I’ve been looking at.”


Band together

During the fall semester, senior Hope Merriam’s day begins bright and early at 7 a.m. in the school track stadium. These morning rehearsals last for over an hour every day, Monday evenings accounting for another two hours of practice each week. On Friday nights, Merriam performs at the football game while hanging out with her friends and watching the Eagles play. This is the typical life of a marching band member, and Merriam has lived it throughout all four years of high school.

According to Merriam, marching band can consume anywhere from 10-15 hours of her week, and though concert band is more lax, she says, finding a balance between band, school and other extracurriculars can prove to be difficult.

“In order to be successful with your course load and all your other extracurriculars and band, it’s important to be very diligent and motivated to do your work and not procrastinate, so that you can orient the proper time for each activity,” Merriam said. “It’s also good to start getting used to a little sleep deprivation.”

Despite the possible stress brought upon by band, Merriam says that band is a great way to get close to other students and be able to share and manage struggles.

“A lot of people say that band is like a family, and it truly is,” Merriam said. “You really learn so much about the people that you participate in band with just by seeing them for 10-15 hours out of the week. It’s just great just to see that camaraderie, especially coming into high school as a freshman. It can be very intimidating, this [is a] huge campus [that comes with] a lot more responsibility.”

In addition to new friendships, band, along with other fine arts programs, can benefit the brain. Merriam argues that band, along with other music programs, helps develop other helpful life skills.

“It helps build your work ethic because you devote so much time to this activity,” Merriam said. “It helps you learn time management as well. You can learn a lot of skills to benefit you in your general life, just by participating in this one activity.”

However, Merriam emphasizes that band differs from other fine arts programs in that band has a lot of variety in terms of what they can do.

“You can be in a concert band setting where you are playing literature designed for a concert band, or you can be playing in an orchestral setting where you are playing with the orchestra, or you can be in a marching band setting where you are out on the field playing music,” Merriam said. “There’s also a huge variety in the types of instruments that we play. So I would say, aside from our huge size at the high school, just the variety in what we are able to do really makes us stand out and stand apart.”


Take a bow

Nestled deep within H-Hall, after passing either the band hall or choir room, there is a room full of students very familiar with music and bowing — though maybe not the bowing that first comes to mind.

The Allen High School orchestra program contains six string orchestras in addition to a full orchestra which is done in tandem with the band program. Senior Edward Cho is currently in Chamber Orchestra and has been part of the orchestra program through his high school career.

“I’ve been in that organization for like eight years,” Cho said. “I play the violin.”

Cho says that he spends about five to six hours per week on orchestra and that he has taken some leadership roles during his time in the orchestra.

“I’ve been concertmaster, [so] I’d lead the orchestra like that,” Cho said. “I also help the director with bowing and stuff.”

Orchestra, as well as other music programs, has a time commitment, especially since they put on concerts, participate in UIL, and play in the musical.

“I try to manage my time as best I can,” Cho said. “So I don’t like waiting until the last minute to do everything. I guess I just try to get my schoolwork done first and in the time after, I do [practice].”

Cho’s favorite part of orchestra, along with meeting new people, is the new pieces the group plays each year.

“The new music we get, it’s been harder each year,” Cho said. “So that’s like a challenge.”

According to Cho, people can be more expressive in orchestra compared to other fine arts programs. However, he sees the benefits in the fine arts as a whole.

“Fine arts right now is declining,” Cho said. “[But] I think if students participate in those kinds of activities, they’ll find a sort of joy and something else they wouldn’t find somewhere else.”


Picasso in the making

As a student at Allen High School, there are many different things that students have the opportunity to be involved in: sports, hundreds of clubs, and several fine arts activities.

Some students like to showcase their art in forms of music in classes like choir, orchestra or band, but for senior Veronica Tucker, it was the art program that caught her eye, which she has participated in since 8th grade. She has been in AP art for two years here at Allen and has worked on numerous projects.

“I have been working on a concentration over the course of the last two years surrounding insects,” Tucker said. “I spent a lot of time studying the intricacies of insect anatomy, and I utilize that information when I create art. I work mostly in ink, but I occasionally will mess around with different mediums.”

Like other activities, art can be hard to balance with homework from other classes, according to Tucker.

“Balancing art has always been difficult, but over the last four years I have developed a routine that has helped me work with a challenging course load,” Tucker said. “I work on my art primarily in the night and try to finish my homework in the day. Weekends, I devote half of my days to art.”

In Tucker’s opinion, fine arts can give students a way to reduce stress in their lives.

“Fine arts allows students to have a creative outlet. It helps you grow as a learner and expand breadth of your knowledge. I think it’s incredibly important to make some type of art an integral part of your life,” Tucker said.

Over the past two years, Tucker has continued to challenge herself with the arts program, and will do so until her high school chapter comes to a close.

“Visual art requires you to push yourself creatively,” Tucker said. “To put something on the page.”