Everyone’s life is filled with high notes and low notes, but for those who have crossed paths with FHS senior Ashlyn Killian, the notes are mostly high.
Killian has been a part of the FHS Choir program for the past four years and is currently serving as president of the group. She said four years ago, she would have never thought she would be where she is today.
“If you would have asked freshman me if I would ever be president, I would have said ‘never,’” Killian laughed. “Throughout junior high, I was very shy and sort of just sat there and existed, but through choir, I have grown so much. I learned who I was and I finally felt like I belonged and like I could be myself at school.”
Melissa Smith, assistant choir director, said she is proud of Killian’s growth.
“She’ll be the first to tell you in junior high, she was a total wallflower,” Smith said. “She was shy, did not have many friends, was kind of a nerd, was picked on, did not think she would click or fit in anywhere, and now she’s an amazing leader.”
“Ashlyn can take the experience of feeling like there wasn’t a place for her and that no one noticed her or knew her name, as direct inspiration,” Smith said. “From the kids who just joined last week to the seniors who are four-year All-State students, she knows everyone and treats everyone like they are important.”
Head Choir Director Michael Tyer said Killian’s kindness is evident in all that she does.
“Ashlyn has touched the lives of nearly every single student in our program,” Tyer said. “She made it her mission to know the name of every singer and does her best to greet everyone she sees each day. She has taken it upon herself to privately tutor over a dozen singers in sight-reading and does so with a positive and patient manner.”
Not only is Killian kind, but she also has great leadership qualities, according to her directors.
“In 17 years of teaching I have had both weak and strong student leadership, but I have never before been blessed with one so proactively motivated as Ashlyn,” Tyer said. “She is compassionate, innovative, classy, humble, hard-working, and often makes us feel like we have an additional director in the room with us. She is truly a blessing and we are so excited to be able to recognize the incredible contribution she has made to our program and all of the students that come into contact with her. Ashlyn has set the bar high for the future and has shown her peers what it really means to be a leader.”
“Ashlyn exemplifies leadership,” Smith stated. “She understands that leadership means service. She’s always thinking of someone else and the next thing to make amazing.”
Also amazing is Killian’s voice.
“She has this warm, deep, rich alto. It’s beautiful,” Smith said. “Her attention to detail is unparalleled. She is thinking of every pitch, every rhythm, every syllable of every word, but at the same time she’s thinking about how to passionately and expressively get the text across and to be as musical and beautiful as possible.”
Singing has been a passion of Killian’s since before she could remember.
“My mom would say I’ve been singing since I was little,” Killian said. “I would make up songs – they weren’t good. I’d sing them for my mom and of course, she’d tell me they were good, but I know she was probably thinking, ‘what is my child doing?’”
Somewhere between writing her own lyrics to repeated singing lines from Alicia Keys’ “No One,” Killian realized singing was not only something she enjoyed, but it was also an outlet.
“I learned that singing usually calms my stress and anxiety, so it’s really helped me in ways that I did not know it would,” she stated.
Since entering high school, Killian said she has found that singing has also brought her a second home.
“Choir is just a big family. I know it’s thrown around a lot that every group is a family, but choir is different because it’s all kids from all different backgrounds in one big space,” Killian stated. “For us, choir is whatever we need it to be. It’s very versatile.”
Smith said she feels the same way.
“That family atmosphere that she talks about, she is a large part of that because she is coming up with ways of building and bonding people together,” Smith said. “She is incredible.”
After graduating in May, Killian plans to pursue a degree in Mass Communication, then hopefully make it into the Texas State Music Program. Smith said she is confident that Killian will leave “high notes” everywhere life leads her.
“I know that whatever she does in college, she’s going to do 110% and she’s going to be the best at it,” Smith stated. “She’s going to go where she can articulately and eloquently lead and serve and make her corner of the world better.”