Education

Belleville girl helps bands cover The Beatles and ZZ Top — and she’s only 9

9-year-old student of the week talks about helping TOCO and the homeless

Fourth-grader Peyton Long, of Belleville, Illinois, is a student at Blessed Sacrament has great love of music and animals. She also performs in a band that covers The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Bush, Radiohead and ZZ Top.
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Fourth-grader Peyton Long, of Belleville, Illinois, is a student at Blessed Sacrament has great love of music and animals. She also performs in a band that covers The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Bush, Radiohead and ZZ Top.

Peyton Long may only be 9 years old, but she knows how to rock. The fourth-grader is in three bands.

One band called OOPA, she and her friends and family members formed. Band members include her cousins Oliver and Owen Renneker and a friend name Ava Hoagland. Peyton plays the guitar.

Peyton donates some of the money she earns from the band’s gigs or sales of merchandise including T-shirts and buttons. The band has a charity called Kids Rockin’ For Kids.

“I will always donate a portion to the soup kitchen,” she said.

OOPA’s next gig is Oct. 29 at the Halloween Hi-Jinks in Columbia.

She’s also in another cover band called the School of Rock based in Kirkwood, Mo. as well as the school band at her school — Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Belleville.

Recently, Peyton and her fellow fourth-graders had a “Have A Heart Day Apart” to raise money for the St. Vincent de Paul mobile soup kitchen. Peyton wrote a song and other students performed skits, and they raised $191 through donations.

“I’m really surprised,” Peyton said about how much they raised. “It was really fun.”

When Peyton isn’t rocking, she is helping the homeless.

For the last several years, Peyton has helped at the Tapestry of Community Offering’s annual family festival at Jellystone Park in Eureka, Mo.

She sells ice pops, candy and lemonade and donates all the money to TOCO, which has three locations including one in Belleville. TOCO helps children and families in need; some of which may be homeless.

Peyton’s parents set an example of giving back. Her mother Renee helps with the St. Vincent de Paul mobile soup kitchen and her father Doug is learning to drive it.

Peyton does what she can to help including handing out snacks to homeless individuals she sees.

“When you go to St. Louis you just see all these people on the streets, and you feel so bad for them,” Peyton said. “It just really makes me sad.”

Why does she enjoy helping others? “The joy in your heart that you really made a big difference,” Peyton said. “There’s so many people in this world that need help.”

Her teacher Diane Diekemper described Peyton as “compassionate to a fault. She is just empathetic and encourages everyone in class,” Diekemper said.

When you go to St. Louis you just see all these people on the streets, and you feel so bad for them. It just really makes me sad.

Peyton Long, fourth-grader at Blessed Sacrament

Q: How long have you been passionate about music?

A: “My whole life I’ve always had a passion for music. I sing all the time.”

Q: Do you have a favorite musician or band?

A: “My favorite rock singer would be Prince, and my favorite band — Nirvana.”

Q: What type of songs does OOPA play?

A: “We’re a cover band, which means we play other people’s songs. We have a whole entire set list full of The Beatles songs. We also play songs by Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Bush, Radiohead and ZZ Top.”

Q: Are you also passionate about animals?

A: “My love of animals has been a passion probably before my love of music. There’s something called Treehouse Wildlife Center, and my STEM teacher is a volunteer. It’s really cool, because there’s a bunch of rescued animals that they feed and take care of until they are ready to be released.”

Q: What do you want to do when you grow up?

A: “One thing I really want to do is be a stand-up comedian. I love stand-up comedy. I like making people laugh. It’s fun for me to make people happy.”

Q: What do you like to do after school?

A: “I am kind of a gamer. I play with my friends all the time. It’s so much fun, especially a game called Minecraft. It’s a creative game. There’s no end to it. You can never get bored of that game. There’s infinite possibilities.”

Q: How do you spend your weekends?

A: “I usually do one thing fun every weekend. It’s usually going to a friend’s house or doing something. I have band practices. Saturday is School of Rock and Sunday is OOPA.”

Q: What’s something unusual about yourself?

A: “I have an awkward love of ducks. I love ducks so much. It’s so weird. They are so cute and adorable. Every time I see a duck I want to hug it.”

Jamie Forsythe: 618-239-2562, @BND_JForsythe

Meet Peyton Long

  • School: Fourth-grader at Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Belleville
  • Age: 9 years old
  • Hometown: Belleville
  • Family: Parents Renee and Doug Long and two older sisters, Taylor, 24, and Miranda, 21
  • Pets: Two dogs, three cats and two lizards
  • Sports: Soccer
  • School activities: Chess club, St. Vincent de Paul and band. She plays the guitar.
  • Favorite class: Science Technology Engineering and Math
  • Favorite TV show: “Looney Tunes”
  • Favorite movie: Animated version of “Alice and Wonderland”
  • Favorite restaurant: Texas Roadhouse
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