Whether he is on the stage, marching on the field or just simply walking down the hallway, William Clyburn was made to stand out. The FHS senior is someone who is known throughout the campus and throughout the community for his contagiously outgoing personality.
Clyburn uses his bold nature in many campus activities. He is a member of the FHS band, the drumline, choir and theatre, and he shines in all of them.
“I recently called Will a renaissance young man because, artistically, he is one of the most well-rounded fine arts students I have worked with,” Kathy Powdrell, FHS theatre teacher, said. “In theatre, we speak of the ‘triple threat’ – the artist who acts, sings and dances. With Will, you have to add drummer, pianist, composer, guitarist and author.”
Clyburn started participating with band and choir when he was in junior high, then discovered theatre in high school.
“All of a sudden my junior year, I got into theatre totally randomly, and that became my thing. I still did band and choir, but theater caught my eye and I started doing musicals,” Clyburn said. “I just want to perform for people.”
People have been moved by Clyburn’s performances.
“When I played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, there were moments when I’d have people dying laughing, but then there were those moments where people would be absolutely silent,” Clyburn said. “Letting a whole group of people listen to you, take what you’re saying and understand it is really magical.”
Principal Mark Griffon said Clyburn’s performances follow him off the stage.
“He’s performing all the time,” Griffon said with a smile. “He’s just a friendly guy to all the grade levels. He’s easy to talk to, so the kids like him a lot.”
It seems as though everyone knows the name William Clyburn.
“Being known just makes me want to know more about everyone else,” Clyburn said. “I try to be humble and get to know as many people as I possibly can. I have people come up to me and say ‘Your performance was amazing, it changed the way I thought about [fill-in-the-blank]’ and it made me realize I could affect people with this thing I love to do.”
Students have said they are drawn toward Clyburn because of the way he completely embraces who he is, but Clyburn said he was not always so confident.
“For a long time, in junior high and elementary school, I was scrutinized. I was a bullied kid. I was not always the healthiest looking, and I was sort of always bigger than everyone else,” he said. “When I got into high school, I figured being myself and embracing it was the safest way to live because once people start to mature, they begin to appreciate that more.”
“I would get asked, ‘How can you just be yourself and be so out there?’” Clyburn said. “At the beginning, it was a defense mechanism, but now it’s a lifestyle to completely be myself. It’s the only way to live.”
Griffon said this attitude is an inspiration to Clyburn’s peers.
“He shows the other students how to not be afraid to challenge themselves to do different things,” Griffon stated. “He’ll interact with freshmen who he doesn’t even know and try to get them involved or fired up about something. The message he sends is to be creative and have fun.”
Powdrell credits Clyburn’s likeability to his selfless heart.
“Will Clyburn is an amazingly compassionate student. Daily, he encourages and lifts up his fellow student,” Powdrell said. “Will has incredible energy and an affable spirit. He inspires his fellow students and demonstrates what it means to be a true Mustang: the student who does many things all to the benefit of his fellow FHS student body.”
It’s that same student body that Clyburn said inspires him regularly.
“I’m inspired by all of my peers in high school,” Clyburn said. “When I was a kid, everyone was very closed off and some people have told me I brought their shyness out of them. It’s inspiring to me when I help other people.”
Clyburn’s teachers hope he will continue to be a light for others after he graduates high school.
Once he tackles his basics at San Jacinto Community College, Clyburn plans on attending Belmont University in Nashville where he wants to study music and audio engineering.
“Music is my bread and butter and I plan to pursue that,” Clyburn said. “That’s my dream.”
Powdrell said she believes no dream is too big for Clyburn.
“Artistically, Will can do anything he sets his mind to,” she said. “I hope to see him on a stage. What he has is a rare gift that needs to be shared by audiences. I hope he continues to share that gift. It has been an honor to collaborate with him.”
“We hope he understands he has a lot of talent and we want him to dare himself to do great things,” Griffon said.
As he dares to follow his passions and stay true to himself, Clyburn leaves his peers with some advice.
“Be yourself. Unapologetically be yourself. Don’t let these high school stigmas shake you as a person,” he said. “If you are 100 percent, undeniably you, people are going to catch on and you will be praised for it.”