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Music plays central role in St. Michael’s Academy valedictorian Katelyn Gilchrist’s accomplishments

UPDATED: Thu., June 6, 2019

Katelyn Gilchrist will graduate valedicotian from from St. Michael's Academy. (COURTESY / COURTESY)
Katelyn Gilchrist will graduate valedicotian from from St. Michael's Academy. (COURTESY / COURTESY)
By Spencer Brown For The Spokesman-Review

Many of us have trouble standing out in high school. Katelyn Gilchrist is not one of those people.

Even if her senior class was more than 12 people and even if she didn’t go to the same school since fourth grade she still would have shone as brightly.

After being involved both in music and theater at St. Michael’s Academy as well as exceeding her community service hours and being named the valedictorian of her class, Gilchrist is the student we all wished we could have been.

“Katelyn is one of those students who is involved in everything. And even though it is mandatory for all students to be in choir she really takes a leadership role by helping to teach other students how to sing. She is a real asset to the choir teacher,” Sister Michael Marie of St. Michael’s Academy said.

Besides piano and choir Gilchrist enjoys other aspects in music.

“I mostly love to sing and write what would be considered alt-pop. Most of the songs I sing are love songs with just a little piano or acoustic in the back. I want it to be calm and relaxing,” Gilchrist said.

Gilchrist also is learning to be proficient in the organ.

“I can play the piano, a little ukulele, and the organ,” Gilchrist said, “The organ is a lot harder than the piano and I only started playing it last year. I thought I’d try it because I go to a Catholic school and church and the organ is a main part of the worship. I can only play one song right now and I’m not that amazing.”

Gilchrist’s organ playing even led her to play a song at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

“It was a beautiful cathedral, and I was so nervous I was shaking when I went up to play. If I am going to do something I want to have it 100% down before I do it, but practicing on an organ is pretty hard. No one notices the mistakes more than yourself, but I think most people enjoyed it,” Gilchrist said.

Today Gilchrist enjoys success from her dedication to her music, however it has not always been an easy road. When she began learning how to play the piano she broke her left wrist while roller skating and needed to get pins placed in it.

“I didn’t think too much about the accident at the time, but in the 6 months it took to heal it really affected my ability to play. I always have to be more conscious of my left hand when I’m playing, and it hurts the entire time I’m playing,” she said.

Gilchrist can have her hand operated on again to alleviate the pain and should she decide to pursue music in a more serious fashion she would opt to have it.

“Music is my major thing, but I also love school and reading. I have never really been a sports person,” Gilchrist said.

Throughout her time at St. Michael’s Academy, Gilchrist also was active in the theater program.

“She is an exceptional actress, singer, is well poised and even played five parts in our production of ‘Annie’,” said Anne Marie Netzel, drama teacher at St. Michael’s Academy.

Gilchrist’s plan after graduating from St. Michael’s is more of an introspective one.

“Right now, I am planning on taking a gap year after high school to really look at my options. There are really two routes I could choose from: either go to school and study medicine or focus on my music and pursue that,” Gilchrist said.

One of most commonly referred to characteristics of Gilchrist aside from her love for music and theater, was her innate leadership.

“I taught her since junior high and the one thing that has really grown is her influence on her peers and her ability as a natural born leader. When others are stuck about what to do she really comes in and fills the gap and that’s a real gift she’s really taken on,” Sister Michael Marie said.

While Gilchrist is a strong student and leader, she is also known as someone we all need as a friend.

“She is of course known for her music, but she is also known for her advice. She is the kind of person you seek out when you are looking for an unbiased or blunt answer – no fluff,” Sister Michael Marie said.

Said Gilchrist: “I think other people see me as a very hard person. I am actually a very sensitive person, but I just pretend like I am not. I translate my emotions into my music. I hold everything in until I get home and then get it all out in my music.”

Many would assume all a high school senior would want is for graduation to finally come and go so they could move on with their lives, but this is not the case with Gilchrist.

“I really loved going to a smaller school and the connections I made here. You go from going to class with all your friends to hanging out somewhere with the same group of people,” Gilchrist said.

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