Education

O’Fallon student knows how to hit the high notes

Kayla Fisher was just 9 years old when her grandmother took her to her first opera — “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

It sparked her interest in opera. The sophomore at O’Fallon Township High School began singing opera two years ago and was recently selected to participate in the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 2016-17 class of Monsanto Artists-in-Training.

“I was so excited,” Kayla said. “I love opera. It’s very powerful but sweet.”

Kayla was one of 24 high school students from the St. Louis metropolitan area selected for the program. Other students from the metro-east include Rayna Campbell, a senior at Belleville East; Alton High School junior Anya Jones and senior Ries Lundstrom; and Hannah Willmore, a senior at Edwardsville High.

Kayla said the artists-in-training students meet every Tuesday. She’s currently learning two opera pieces “I Love All Graceful Things” and an Italian piece called “Ah, mai non cessate” under the direction of opera teacher Marc Schapman.

Participating students will perform at two recitals: one on Jan. 15 at Graham Chapel at Washington University and one on April 23. The singers will compete for more than $11,000 in scholarships, which are awarded based on their performances at the recital.

Kayla also takes voice lessons from Jamie Eros in Belleville.

She hasn’t decided what college she wants to attend, but hopes to become an actress whether it’s on Broadway or in movies.

“It’s a great way for me to express myself,” she said. “I’m really good at singing and acting. I’ve been doing it since I was little.”

Q: How long have you been singing?

A: “I’ve been singing since (I was) very little when my mom would come up with songs for everyday activities.”

Q: What do you enjoy most about singing?

A: “I enjoy the different types of music like opera-style or pop, and seeing how far I can push myself.”

Q: How is opera singing different from regular singing?

A: “You have to use your vibrato a lot, and you have to have a really high range for different pieces.”

Q: What got you interested in the Madrigals?

A: “I like to sing, and I like to act. It’s just really fun. It’s different time periods and you get to play a different character in Medieval Times. There’s lots of good food.” (She plays a wench, which is a server.)

Q: Why do you enjoy working as a crew member on school plays?

A: “I like seeing the show come together at the end and being able to help and being there to support my fellow actors.”

Q: What do you enjoy most at O’Fallon High School?

A: “The teachers. They are really nice, and you can go to them for help whenever you are struggling.”

Q: How do you balance school work and all your extra curricular activities?

A: “Whenever I get the chance I just do my homework. I make flashcards to help me study.”

Q: What do you do for fun in your spare time?

A: “I have Disney nights with my friends where we watch Disney movies.” (Her favorite is “Little Mermaid.”)

Q: Do you have any advice for fellow high school students?

A: “Get out there. Be social. Just have fun. Make a fool of yourself.”

Jamie Forsythe: 618-239-2562, @BND_JForsythe

Meet Kayla Fisher

  • School: Sophomore at O’Fallon Township High School
  • Junior high: Attended St. Clare Catholic School
  • Age: 15 years old
  • Family: Parents Cheryl and Mark Fisher and brother Zack, 12
  • Pet: Dog named Mayzie
  • School activities: Manager of Show Choir, Concert Choir, Friends of Rachel Club, Spanish Club, Madrigals and crew member for school plays
  • Other activities: Member of the parish choir at St. Nicholas Church in O’Fallon and a Girl Scout in Troop 884
  • Favorite class: Choir and Spanish
  • Least favorite class: History
  • Mentors: Cristina Nordin, choir teacher, and Kristen Keller, show choir
  • Favorite music genre: Musical theater
  • Favorite musical: “Hamilton”
  • Favorite actress: Anna Kendrick
  • Favorite movie: “Pitch Perfect”
  • Favorite food: Cheesecake
  • Favorite restaurant: Melting Pot
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