My years at CCHS, from 1990 - 1994, were full and enriching. Academically, I was most intrigued by the humanities--history, religion, social studies, and literature. I had many memorable and impactful teachers, especially Mr. Griffieon and Mrs. VandenBosch. I fondly remember going on Close Up, a week-long trip to Washington D.C., where I got to see and dissect the government first hand. A benefit of a smaller school is that you are able to be involved in a wide variety of activities and not just have to pick one sport or activity. I took full advantage of this, joining as many clubs and organizations as possible, from being a newspaper editor to an NHS secretary, and playing sports my freshman and sophomore years.
But for me, the real highlight of my high school experience was the arts--specifically music and theater. I had always been interested in singing and am so fortunate that I had a topnotch choir director, Mr. Baar, to challenge me and bring out my full potential through the various choirs. The choral program was filled with challenging yet diverse music and abundant opportunities, including choir tours, CD recordings, guest conductors and workshops. Individually, I was privileged to participate in Fine Arts, solo and ensemble competitions, and make the Honors All-State ILMEA Choir. Theater wise, I played various roles, including a blonde ditz Zaneeta in The Music Man, Mary the mother of Jesus in Cotton Patch Gospel, and my favorite high school role, gun-toting Annie, in Annie Get Your Gun. Another theater highlight from my time at CCHS was going to the Illinois State High School Theater Festival.
The first date with my husband was at the 1992 CCHS prom. We married in 1998 and have a 12 year old daughter, Sydney, who is currently a student at the Southwest Christian Oak Lawn Campus.
After high school, I received a B.A. in music with a vocal performance concentration from Calvin College. I knew that my future career needed to involve singing and music and was open to the path God would lead me on. Although I really enjoyed performing as well as working behind the scenes for Chicago Opera Theatre and the Lyric Opera, I quickly realized that I needed a job that involved instilling and nurturing others’ love for music. This led to various teaching roles, including running my own Kindermusik business, teaching music in elementary schools, leading vocal technique classes, doing vocal coaching, directing children and church choirs, running summer camps for vocal training, and directing and choreographing musicals for children. This journey led me back to CCHS, where I taught voice lessons for eight years as well as choreographed and assistant directed musicals such as Little Shop of Horrors and My Fair Lady. It became evident to me that directing musicals was a wonderful way to combine all my passions-- singing, acting, dancing, working with children, and building kids’ self-confidence and self-esteem.
In 2014 I started a children’s theater company called My Time To Shine Musical Theater. The past five years, though busy and stressful, have been some of the most fulfilling of my life. The company, based out of the Palos Heights Parks and Recreation building, has grown by leaps and bounds, now with a class for 3 and 4 year olds, and 3 performing divisions for 4 year olds-1st graders, 2nd-4th graders, and 5th-8th graders. We have over 100 kids involved at a time. As founder and director, I’m thrilled to have another CCHS alum Julie (Wiltjer) Church by my side as Assistant Director. Although the process of bringing shows to fruition is gratifying, my true joy comes from watching kids start to see themselves the way God sees them, through the tool of musical theater. What a gift!