Katelynn Heilman’s musical journey begins a new movement on a bittersweet note


Katelynn Heilman

Katelynn has used choir not only to learn but also to connect deeply with her peers.

Senior Katelynn Heilman’s brother will never admit that he’s a talented singer, but Katelynn will confess to this through actions rather than words. Since she was young, Katelynn was raised around people who were talented with their voices—her father and her brothers. So, there’s no surprise that eventually, Katelynn took to music as well, but even more so than her other family members.

After a year in orchestra in sixth grade, Katelynn decided to shift to her real passion: choir. From seventh grade and beyond, Katelynn remained in the tightly-knit community of singing at FHC.

“I’ve always loved singing—it’s been something fun for me,” Katelynn said. “In seventh grade, my best friend was like, ‘You need to do choir; you love singing.’ So, I did choir, and I’ve been in it all six years now.”

Singing is a longtime passion of Katelynn’s, which is what drew her into the class in the first place. However, what made her stay was beyond the audible art that was made in her zero-hour Central Singers class.

Because each of the few students in the Central Singers class has to wake up at the crack of dawn to dedicate the extra hour of their school day to singing, it is fair to say that the entire class is bonded by their love of singing. However, Katelynn’s connection to her peers goes much deeper.

“It’s one of those places where choir and music aren’t competitive for us,” Katelynn said. “It’s one of those things that we love doing together. I think we all genuinely want to see everyone succeed and be happy, so it’s a really great environment. We’re so loving of everyone.”

While all of her classmates in the choir are valuable friends, Katelynn has found a specifically special connection with her fellow seniors.

Because Katelynn has consistently had choir every school day with the same grouping of people for at least four years, they have grown very close, especially since they share many of the same experiences that come with being in the same grade. Because of this, Katelynn has a great amount of trust in her fellow Central Singers seniors.

“At the last concert, I looked at all the seniors that were next to me,” Katelynn said, “and they’re all people that I would consider to be good people or my friends. It’s one of those groups where it’s hard to extend judgment on people because there’s nothing to judge; we’re all the same. We’re all united in the fact that we do choir.”

Katelynn’s connections through choir haven’t stopped at fellow students, though. Because of her longtime zero-hour class, Katelynn has grown closer with choir teacher Sean Ivory.

Both as a mentor and a friend, Katelynn has been greatly inspired by Ivory and his work—especially when he composes pieces for the choir to sing, which is one of Katelynn’s favorite types of music to sing. Being taught by the composer himself is one of the most valuable experiences a singer can have, but Katelynn especially values Ivory as a person.

“[Ivory] is such a good human being,” Katelynn said. “Specifically, with the past four years with COVID-19 and everything, we’ve gotten to know him as a person. He extends to every part of who we are, and I think he does a really good job of doing everything he can to make us good people. I feel genuinely honored that I’ve been able to be taught by him.”

Due to the fact that Katelynn has had so many positive experiences throughout her time in middle school and high school choir, she plans on taking her musical career further. Although Katelynn is a talented vocalist, she plans to opt for a more recreational and enjoyable approach to music in the future so that she can periodically join a group when the opportunity arises.

An acapella group or local choir is set in Katelynn’s sights, and beyond personal pleasure, she will be able to continue reaping the benefits of musical activity that she has already found throughout high school.

There are so many things that I wouldn’t be if it weren’t for choir, so obviously, I’ll take that to my future of who I am.

— Katelynn Heilman

“One thing [I’ve learned in choir] is to seek out relationships I can have with people,” Katelynn said. “[My friends in choir] are my closest friends—they’re my people. It’s funny looking back to freshman year, and even last year, and being like, ‘Wow, we weren’t really this close.’ Choir brought us together, so extending myself out is what [I’ve learned].”

On top of forming interpersonal relationships with others, Katelynn has found what many high schoolers strive for during their teenage years: a sense of belonging and self.

Through choir, Katelynn has been able to explore who she is as a person by socializing with others and expressing herself musically.

“I also feel like it’s an environment where I’ve gotten to learn who I am,” Katelynn said. “There are so many things that I wouldn’t be if it weren’t for choir, so obviously, I’ll take that to my future of who I am.”

In a bittersweet manner, Katelynn’s time as a high school singer has come to a close. Although she will carry the lessons and memories of her choir experience with her forever, she recently had her final concert as a Central Singer.

The ending of the concert was full of emotion, just as every moment of Katelynn’s choir experience was. Even the energy on the stage expressed how everyone was feeling in those last moments as a class.

“It was probably the saddest “last” of high school,” Katelynn said. “I’m a crier—I knew I was going to be gone. There wasn’t anyone who was nonchalant about it. Even if not everyone cried, everyone really felt it. I think we all were really close as seniors, and we were really close with Ivory. Generally, we’ve bonded so much over the last four years; I think it was a big thing for everyone.”