Betsy Helmer, 17
Marist School, Senior
Betsy Helmer has been singing since she was in the second grade. Enrolling in chorus was initially the idea of her parents, John Helmer and Lisa Robinson, but then she developed a passion for music and theater performance.
“I was always singing Broadway tunes around the house, and I was always really loud, and so my mom suggested, ‘Why don’t we just put it to good use?’ ” Betsy said.
The use of her talents has reached award-winning levels. In early April she was named outstanding vocalist at a national choral competition in New York. A mezzo-soprano, Betsy sings with Marist’s Chamber Choir and The Trio.
When she isn’t singing, Betsy can be seen performing in plays at Marist or the Alliance Theatre. Her favorite role was the character Appassionata, which she played in the musical “Li’l Abner” early in high school.
“When I perform onstage, there’s a certain connection I have with the audience and my other castmates. You have to be kind of vulnerable. … It’s nice to be able to go to another place,” she said. “The character kind of becomes a part of you at the end. I honestly believe that from every character I’ve ever played, I’ve taken an attribute with me from that character because you become fully a part of it.”
In addition to her accomplishments as a performer, Betsy is the president of Mosaic, Marist’s diversity program. Last year she was awarded the Princeton Prize in Race Relations for her work with the group and is preparing to attend a town hall meeting addressing race relations with Congressman John Lewis.
“I’ve always been involved in the civil rights aspect of history,” she said. “I just started working a lot with diversity at my school. We’ve had assemblies, and I made a speech to the student body about just how important it is that our school embraces diversity.”
This year Mosaic sponsored a production of “The Laramie Project,” a documentary play about a homophobic murder in Wyoming. Betsy acted in the play and said it was “cool to mesh the two activities” of performance and social activism.
Betsy wants to move to the Washington, D.C., area and major in pre-law with a focus on civil rights issues. She’s looking into Georgetown, George Washington and American universities.