By Marina Meretz, DeLand High School Staff Reporter

Good qualities of a president are resilience, commitment, assertiveness, charisma and openness to different perspectives. You must be respected, a good communicator, welcoming and yet firm. Deland High school’s choir co-president Gracie Holland embodies all these qualities and more. Gracie Holland is DeLand High School’s choir co-president alongside Logan Buscher. Her responsibilities include communicating with other students and assisting the choral directors, Victoria Rathbun and Ross Cawthon. She also doubles as student conductor and helps teach class when the directors are absent.

Holland started out her freshman year in an advanced choir, the chamber ensemble. She was placed there by Cawthon for her musical knowledge and abilities. In chamber, Holland recalls the strong bond she formed with her classmates and her teacher, Rathbun.

Gracie Holland, pictured second to last, with her peers and choir teacher, Victoria Rathbun

Throughout the years, Holland has been in multiple choirs, but she is finishing off her senior year taking chamber again. She explains that she will always have a soft spot for this ensemble as it was her first home in this choir program. This class is still taught by Rathbun, who only has kind words for Holland.

“Gracie Holland is a natural leader and hard-working musician who is dedicated to uniting the choir—both musically and socially. She truly embraces this year’s choir theme “Lead with Love,” as she strives to include every choir member as a part of our family and does so with compassion and heart. She leads by example and strives to help out in every way she can to keep our choir program running smoothly.” Holland joined chorus council her junior year when she served as Secretary. Her hard work and dedication throughout her time in the program paid off when she was selected as president. To no one’s surprise, she has handled the responsibilities of this position with the upmost grace and dedication regardless of how busy her life became throughout her senior year.

To say senior year has been jam packed with activities for Holland is an understatement. She had the pleasure of performing at All State for the second year in a row not only as an audition member of the High-School SATB mixed chorus but also with her peers in the DeLand Singers class who were Choir President Gracie Holland and her legacy at DeLand High School invited to perform five pieces for music educators from all over the state of Florida.

Aside from this, the two ensembles that Holland is a part of, the Chamber Ensemble and the DeLand Singers, both received Superiors at MPA (music performance assessment) and will be going to states. The afterschool audition group that Holland is a part of, Dolce Voce, also received Superiors at their district assessment and got the privilege to perform at State Solo and Ensemble where they received an Excellent rating.

“My dream since I was five years old is to be on Broadway. That has not changed.” Holland is going to college to study musical theater with a minor in education. Her backup plan is to be a choir teacher for younger students. Although her goal is to perform, she has found a love for teaching children about music and performance at Athen’s Youth Academy. She has been a junior counselor at Athens Theater Youth Academy for two years and performed in stage productions at Athens like “Shrek, Jr,” and “Matilda, Jr.” She is forever grateful for her teachers and mentors for helping her grow as a vocalist and a performer.

“I’ve been so lucky to have choir throughout middle and high school, so it’s always been a constant positive in my life…we really are a family. We have a safe space to create art. That’s the thing with music, it brings people together. It’s such a powerful force that way.”

The choir program at DHS is incomparable to any other. Most students find that even if they do not leave the program with an aspiration to be a performer, they do leave with having experienced acceptance and love from their teachers and peers within the program. Students are encouraged to lead with love and are reminded constantly that they are not alone.

Gracie Holland performing in “Shrek, Jr.”

Holland truly embodies these messages of acceptance. Her peers look up to her for guidance, yet she is one of the most humble people you will meet. She is genuine, compassionate, kind, hardworking and truly a gifted singer. Aside from this Holland is also an IB certificate senior and a member of NHS. She has been a dedicated member of Tri-M music honors society for three years now and is also a member of the Hill Street Theater club. She is currently working on her last high school musical production of “The Baker’s Wife.” Their performance will be from April 19-21 in the high school auditorium. The final spring show for choir will be on May 3 at First Baptist Church of DeLand at 7p.m. and Holland would really appreciate it if you could come support and watch her last high school choir concert.

This choir program has been so lucky to have Holland as their co-president this year as she has led with the utmost humility and grace. Her legacy in this school and especially in this program will not soon be forgotten.

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