Helping students shine

Giving teenagers the chance to shine is what drives the work of Kim Snavely, Mount Si High School’s choir and drama teacher.

In addition to her regular classroom duties, Snavely has coordinated the Wildcat Idol and battle of the bands competitions as fundraisers for the choir department. The contests not only create funding to help students broaden their learning (93 choir members traveled to sing in New York last year), but also give budding performers a chance to show their stuff.

The Wildcat Idol competition, which started several years ago, allows students to delve into pop music, a genre that doesn’t always lend itself well to traditional choir classes. Students are invited to participate whether they’re in the choir program or not, and some teenagers have even performed original music.

“You get to see this whole other side of kids, and they get all dressed up and they do their rock star thing,” Snavely said. “It’s fun for me to sit back and watch these kids just blossom.”

The battle of the bands, which debuted last year, offers similar opportunities for the rocker crowd.

“It was fun to let kids know that musical expression in that genre is cool, too,” she said.

Some of the participants were students who don’t always excel in mainstream school subjects, and “they were so grateful that there was a place that they could go and do their thing,” Snavely said.

Seeing teenagers “living the dream” at the performances is heartwarming for Snavely, who once had similar aspirations.

“I wanted to be a rock star in the late Seattle grunge days,” she said. She sang backup in a band called Lime that played the Pioneer Square club circuit.

“The band didn’t pan out, but it was fun. I was really glad that I did that,” she said.

Snavely loves inspiring students to have the same passion for performing that she feels.

“I get to have those beautiful ‘A-ha!’ moments when kids just get ignited. My whole philosophy is empowering all kids to live out their dreams,” she said. “Some kids will be more successful than others. Some will remember that they had a time in high school when they had excellence around them, and I hope that will keep them going.”

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