Hayes’ Jackson eager to take her talent to next stage
Story and photo by
BRECK J. HAPNER
Delaware Hayes senior Elizabeth ‘Lizzi’ Jackson readily admits how large a part music and the theater play in her current life but makes no secret she nurses a future passion to become a child life psychologist.
Although these pursuits sound somewhat antithetical, they are key elements in Lizzi’s quest for personal expression and continued development.
“I will always keep singing and performing,” Lizzi said, “because I love to express who I am while sharing with others in the community. In a similar sense, I am interested in psychology because I am fascinated by the way the brain works and how we interact with society,” she said.
Lizzi’s many activities illustrate her penchant for expression, performance and communication. She is a member of the Delaware Hayes Symphonic Choir, a group selected through audition only. The choir works for at least one hour daily, honing vocal skills used when competing against other schools. Lizzi is also involved with the Hayes Singers, a smaller group of 25 students selected directly from the Symphonic Choir by audition. The Hayes Singers, unlike the choir, sing medleys and also engage in choreographed dance, performing at the Delaware Hayes spring/fall concerts and throughout the Delaware community during holidays. She also works with the Hayes Players, a group of selective orchestra students who offer more challenging pieces, breaking up into quartets indulging in community gigs.
“I started singing in the choir around sixth grade,” Lizzi said. “I am really connected to performance-based music, venturing into the community, providing entertainment. It has been a good experience.”
Delaware Hayes Choir Director Dara Gillis said that Lizzi is organized and conscientious.
“In her role of president of the Hayes Singers, Lizzi has taken charge of the communication and assisted with publicity for the group,” Gillis said. “She often sees and conquers tasks that need to be completed before I have a chance to ask her. She is the kind of student that leads by example and is always willing to help in whatever way she can.”
Perhaps most important to Lizzi is her involvement with the Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA) Solo and Ensemble Adjudicated Event, a school choir and orchestra contest drawing musical groups from all over Ohio.
“We perform and are judged professionally, competing for the prestige offered. It is a great way to enhance skills and receive important feedback,” Lizzi said.
Delaware Hayes Orchestra Director Stacy Lemke remembers Lizzi as an excellent music student.
“Lizzi not only has natural music ability but she possesses an amazing work ethic,” Lemke said. “She is always prepared with a positive attitude.”
For Lizzi, theater is just a natural extension of her singing interests. She is a member of the Delaware Hayes Thespian Troupe as a stage performer in the annual winter play while singing, dancing and acting in the yearly spring musical.
“I have already done three shows at Hayes,” Lizzi said, “and this year will be my fourth. The stage will always remain a big part of who I am.”
Delaware Hayes mathematics teacher Kathleen Kraus said Lizzi loves stage performance and theater arts, dedicating herself to portraying her character in such a way that she transforms the stage.
“As a junior, Elizabeth was in my pre-calculus class. She is a genuine, artistic, and optimistic young woman full of positive energy.”
The trauma brought by the death of a cousin from a drug overdose provided Lizzi the impetus to become involved in community activities outside of performing. As a freshman, she was introduced to the Delaware County Stand Up Leadership Team, a local organization encouraging a drug-free, healthy lifestyle. She has been with the team ever since.
“I have seen what drugs can do to people and families,” Lizzi said. “I was happy to work with the Stand Up team because they are encouraging people to make the right choices while spreading that message to the community.”
Through the aid of a Stand Up Leadership Team director, Lizzi subsequently developed a media literacy workshop for middle and high school teens. The workshop addresses unhealthy messages presented via the media about appearance and body image. During the last three leadership retreats, Lizzi has worked to educate teens about belief in self and dealing with esteem issues through slide show presentations, videos and rigorous discussion.
“We had many people tell us the workshop influenced them to want to make a difference with their lives,” Lizzi said.
Always busy, Lizzi works part-time as a babysitter, dog sitter and house sitter. She also teaches private violin lessons twice weekly.
“A job teaches responsibility and offers the positive effects of communication and networking,” Lizzi said.
Lizzie wants to attend a four-year university in the Chicago area, preferably Loyola or Northwestern, seeking a certificate degree in child life psychology. She plans to continue her involvement in music and theater through extracurricular performance groups and has signed on with the John Casablancas talent agency in Chicago.
“I want to see where I can go in the entertainment industry through the talent agency but my heart lies with child psychology,” Lizzi said. “I want to work with children in hospitals and help them get through traumatic situations and overcome struggles.”
Lizzi acknowledges that she is growing progressively more sentimental about Hayes, knowing it is her last year. Although a struggle, she is dealing with senioritis by focusing on maintaining a high GPA in her challenging classes while maintaining a clear vision of her goal.
“I can’t wait to go to college and become independent. This is an opportunity I have been looking forward to, spreading my wings,” Lizzi said. “I will miss high school but will take all the good memories with me as I discover myself and the world around me.”
Elizabeth is the daughter of Jennifer and Mark Jackson of Delaware.