Being named a 2020 NUFSICISUM Youth Leadership Award winner came as a complete surprise to Hannah Hinz, 18, of Enderby, BC. “To me, being a 2020 NUFSICISUM youth award winner feels like a surreal accomplishment,” she told us in an interview last summer. “I really did not know that my music teacher Michelle Honcoop-Reed was entering me in for the chance to win and it was great to know that helping out in my music community made a difference to some people. My general nature is to help wherever possible, when possible and I love doing it so it was a happy surprise to receive such an honor.”

While this may have come as a surprise to Hannah, it’s fair to say it was no surprise to everyone who knows her well. According to her now former music teacher (Hannah has since graduated from high school), she helped out with absolutely everything from setting up for concerts, leading fundraisers, and even learning a new instrument for the sake of the band – Hannah played flute since elementary school but learned slide trombone to help fill out the Jazz Band.

Since joining the school in Grade 8, Hannah took every available music course and participated in multiple ensembles, including Drumline, Jazz Band, and Musical Theatre – something Hannah didn’t originally see herself doing. 

She was first introduced to her school’s Musical Theatre ensemble in Grade 8, when she bought a ticket to the school’s “Back to the 80s” show, just to see what it was all about. At first, she was skeptical about joining the class, “but [I] decided to branch out and I wound up loving it.” 

In her four years of high school Hannah was involved in several musical productions, including The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Anything Goes, and most recently, Shrek the Musical, Jr., and wishes she could be involved in even more. “Honestly,” she told us, “Musical Theatre was one of the best choices I have ever made because I gained amazing friendships and confidence to be on stage.” 

Taking chances, as Hannah did when she signed up for Musical Theatre, is something she recommends for other youth, particularly those who are interested in taking on a leadership role. “If you know that you want to accomplish something, go for it,” she advises. “What’s the worst thing that can happen when you’re trying your best?” 

Trying your best seems to be a philosophy central to Hannah’s experiences as a member of her school’s music program, and one that contributed to her success as a leader. With every rehearsal and every performance, Hannah was not concerned with her own success, but that of the group; at the core of her leadership was a desire for her classmates to succeed and for the group to do their best. 

Since being named a 2020 NUFSICISUM Award winner, Hannah has graduated from high school and begun studies in the animation program at Okanagan College. Although she is no longer actively involved in music to the same extent, she says that she still plays her flute from time to time, looks forward to attending performances when she can, and will possibly volunteer with her high school’s Musical Theatre program.

Although she is not currently in a music program, Hannah is not ruling out the possibility of a career that bridges her interests in drawing and music – not surprising for someone who believes that music education is vital for all students. “Music programs,” she said,”are usually a student’s way of expressing themselves in a way that they will feel comfortable. Music can be a stress relief and I feel like without it, students would be lost.”