Choral group enhances senior's singing passion
Though Houts first opposed the idea of coming to FC after attending a public elementary, she has come to appreciate the opportunities that a small private school offers.
When I first enrolled to Fresno Christian as a seventh grader, I fought my parents on the decision to send me to a private school, away from my best friend from sixth grade, who would be attending a public junior high school. I was very quiet and afraid I wouldn't make friends easily, plus I was only partially acquainted with one other girl, since we'd attended the same church for a few years.
On the first day of school, my mom dropped me off in front of Building Six. Intimidated by the lockers, eight class periods and a totally foreign environment, I was a bit worried about how my experience at this new school would turn out.
God clearly answered my prayers; by second period, I had made a friend, Rachel McDonald. We happened to have every class together, except eighth period (which was Drama for me, so I figured that would be an easy place to get to know people). She introduced me to her friends and a bit later in the year, the girl I knew from church, Julianne King, turned into one of my closest friends.
As I look back over the past six years, I realize how grateful I am to my parents for "forcing" me to attend FC. I give this school credit for giving me opportunities I definitely would not have had elsewhere and most importantly, for helping me find my voice.
I have always loved to sing. Disregarding my lack of talent as a child, I would lock myself in my room and shamelessly belt out the latest Hilary Duff song. I was determined to become a star simply by practicing and "wanting it" more than the average kid.
"I am not entirely sure what I want to do with my life but I know I want singing to be a part of it. I would encourage the younger students at Fresno Christian to find their niche and make as many memories as they can because my favorite part of high school has been doing what I love the most with the people I love." --Austen Houts, '12
Finally, I reached an age where common sense ruled out and I admitted to myself that I would never be the next teen sensation. Although they would never admit it, I imagine this was probably to the great relief of my parents, who'd grown weary of hearing me try to reach the high notes in songs like "So Yesterday."
My dream of being a singer was put away, with no intention of ever bringing it back for anything other than my own enjoyment, when nobody else could hear me.
This plan changed at the end of my sophomore year when I auditioned for Worship Team. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I completely lacked confidence, but I went for it anyways, figuring I had nothing to lose.
I remember the day in junior high when I first heard the strains of a talented female vocalist escaping from the high school chapel in Ground Zero. I was impressed and wanted to be like whoever was singing, (I didn't even see who it was) simply because they were gifted with a beautiful voice.
After auditioning for, and making it into Worship Team at the end of sophomore year, Houts was able to overcome her initial fear of singing in front of an audience. Since then, Houts has also been involved in Ensemble, where she has established close friendships.
I literally leapt with joy when I found out I had made it into Worship Team, and over my junior year my confidence and skill increased until I was able to start leading songs and singing alone at other venues, like my church.
Gaining all of this vocal experience led to my audition for Ensemble at the end of junior year. Consisting of nine singers (six girls and three guys), Ensemble has been the biggest blessing to me out of any class I've taken at FC.
The small class size allowed us to grow very close over a short period of time and some of my favorite high school memories are with this group of wonderful people.
It is incredible to be part of such a talented, close-knit group, doing something I am so passionate about. Whenever we are adjudicated, we are told that we communicate through our songs because of our size and the connection we have with each other.
Mr. [Michael] Ogdon is a fantastic director, and I want to thank him for all of the time he puts into us, for opening up his home to us for "Ensemble Bonding" and for pushing us to be better than we think we are. Our accompanist, Mrs. Schapansky (or "Pepe," as Ivette [Ibarra, '15] nicknamed her), has been an invaluable member of our team and I look back with fond memories at all of the times when she brought us ice cream or talked with us during class.
The thing I'm going to miss most when I go to college is this group. I know that I will never be a part of an ensemble that feels exactly the same because this was a special opportunity that doesn't come around twice.
Still, I've learned a lot of valuable lessons from Ogdon, Pepe and my fellow ensemble members, vocally and otherwise. I appreciate everything I've experienced with this group of people and will carry the conversations and fun times we have had with me as I move on with my life and begin to pursue other dreams.
I am not entirely sure what I want to do with my life but I know I want singing to be a part of it. I would encourage the younger students at Fresno Christian to find their niche and make as many memories as they can because my favorite part of high school has been doing what I love the most with the people I love.
Senior Austen Houts will be attending California State University, Fresno, in the fall, where she will study Psychology.
For more senior columns, read the May 4 article, Senior expresses thanks to family-school atmosphere.