Passing the torch

Choir president Zaria Aikens leaves a legacy and big shoes to fill.

May 18, 2017

Clad in sparkling dresses, suits and high-heeled shoes, the Grosse Pointe South show choirs hit the stage, pioneered by the help of the choir president, Zaria Aikens ’17.

Aikens was elected Grosse Pointe South choir president by previous members of the four choirs in May, according to choir director Christopher Pratt.

“For me, running for president was my way of reimbursing my family and providing not only choir but the people who make the program what is it, just giving back all that they’ve given to me: a sense of family, a place to belong, friendship, and things in that nature,” Aikens said, “It was moreso I ran for it not for myself, but for others, so that I could give back in ways I wouldn’t be able to had I not been president.”

The leadership members’ responsibilities include helping keep everything running smoothly and to help students succeed in choir, according to Aikens.

“I always say the kids in choir come first, so our responsibility is definitely to just make sure everyone is capable of thriving in choir and the ways that I did, and the ways that I do, so it definitely be to make sure that everyone is focused and everyone is having fun while they’re focused,” Aikens said.

Aikens said she is in a position where she can make be more hands on in choir and make an impact with the other leadership members, and apply their leadership ideals. One program added this year was the Big Little Program, in which upperclassmen choir members are paired with newcomers into choir.

“Zaria’s passion for the choir department is evident in how she speaks about it to others and to her fellow students,” Pratt said, “Throughout the year she has sought ideas to make things go just a little better for choir and the students.  She has been a tremendous asset and I am sorry to lose her and the other officers.They really have been exemplary in the work as officers of our choir.”

Others have noted Zaria’s proficiency, such as Grace Brandon ’18, who said she plans on running for next year’s choir president.

“This year I have seen so much compassion from the choir leadership,” Brandon said, “They are always understanding and willing to help you in any way, which I think it is insanely important for the people in leadership positions to be approachable so they are able to help the people they are leading more effectively.”

According to Aikens, being president means also having to deal with criticism.

“There’s always going to be someone who’s challenging you and your ability to do in this position, and so, my best advice is that take what everyone says with a grain of salt,’’ Aikens said, “I would encourage future presidents to maybe talk to that person and see what exactly is it that you think I don’t know what I’m doing, not in a confrontational sense, but moreso you can improve.”

Aikens said she plans to keep music a part of her life as she moves on to college at Michigan State University.

“Where I go plays a big part in my major, but either way it goes I’ll be doing something with music, whether not it’s a minor or a major, I’m definitely going to join a choir or some a capella group,” Aikens said.

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