One of the great things about the community that makes up Fort Myers Beach is the support for local kids. Here at the Sand Paper, we regularly report on and promote students at Beach Elementary, and love to share with our readers stories about what these students accomplish once they spread their wings and fly. This week, we are happy to report that one such former Beach School student – Bryanna Walker – was recently selected to receive a scholarship from the prestigious ‘Voices of Naples’ program that she will use to pursue her vocal education at one of several institutes of higher learning that have already accepted her – Carnegie Mellon University, Bucknell University, Temple, University of Denver and DePauw. She has also been accepted into Boston University’s Young Artist Vocal Program for this summer.
The first time we wrote about Walker, who is now a senior at Cypress Lake High School’s Center for the Performing Arts, was in March of 2012 when – as an 8th grader at Lexington Middle School – she was awarded the Youth Merits Award from the Town of Fort Myers Beach, after being nominated by her former Principal at Beach Elementary, Larry Wood.
“Bryanna was an outstanding student and person while attending Beach Elementary from 2nd grade through 5th grade. She’s just an amazingly talented girl,” Principal Wood said then.
While at Beach Elementary, Bryanna earned a place on the 5th Grade Honor Choir in 2009 and sang the National Anthem at Germain Arena that same year. At the time she won the Youth Merit award, she’d been a member of the Middle School All County Chorus since 2010, and sang the National Anthem at Hammond Arena in 2011 and 2012. She was a part of the Southwest Florida Symphony Youth Chorus in 2009-2010 and was honored to be a featured soloist with the Symphony at Barbara B. Mann in 2009.
Since we last told our readers about this amazingly talented young woman, Bryanna’s pedigree has grown even longer. Her vocal chops have earned her many, many distinctive awards including: 1st place in Musical Theater, National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) in 2016 and 2016; 1st place vocals in 2012 and 2013 Calusa Musicale and Learning for Life Talent Competitions; Overall Winner at the 2014 Young Artist Awards; Finalist Winner/Broadway Bound Award, 2015 Schmidt Vocal Competition and much more. She has also performed in countless musical theater productions that stretch back to her time at Lexington Middle School – including Guys and Dolls, Pirates of Penzance, Cabaret, the Sound of Music, Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz and A Chorus Line – to name a few.
Add that to her academic achievements – a challenging class load of advanced and college level classes in which she holds a 4.5 GPA and a membership in the National Honor Society, along with a host of community service duties – including volunteer work at both Orangewood Elementary and Beach Elementary – an Anti-Bullying Awareness Program and Teens for Jeans campaigns (both of which she founded), and anyone can see that this beach girl is bound for greatness.
In her scholarship application, Walker says that her long-term goals are to obtain first her Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance – with a focus in classical and opera, then ‘continue to grow as an artist through the pursuit of graduate studies’ – with the ultimate goal being to obtain a doctorate in her field while creating a program to bring music to underprivileged schools where arts funding has been cut.
“Being able to have music in my life has shaped my understanding of true commitment, work ethic, balance, priorities and has helped me to become the best me I can be,” Bryanna wrote. “I truly believe having music in my life has made me a better person, helped me to grow, be open-minded, stay balanced and has made me a well-rounded individual. Music has and always will be a part of who I am.”
Her former principal couldn’t be prouder.
“She’s got tremendous talent – when we heard about her scholarship, we all just glowed,” Wood told us. “She’s continued to volunteer here nearly every Thursday with our 2nd grade after school Study Buddy group. She’s a great singer and a great person and I always knew she’d go far.”
Keri Hendry Weeg