ST. MARYS — 18-year-old senior Brooke Hertenstein exudes happiness and positivity and her cheerful outlook, passion and enthusiasm shine through in every project and endeavor she tackles.
Music and the arts are a big part of Hertenstein’s life, but within Memorial High School, she is involved in much more. Hertenstein is a member of National Honor Society, Relay For Life, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, band and choir.
Being a part of the community and giving to others is important to Hertenstein, which is why she joined NHS two years ago. Right now, Hertenstein and her classmates are tutoring other Riders with the subjects in which they struggle.
“I am tutoring students in Latin right now (during) Rider time,” she said. “I like seeing the improvement and see the click that students finally understand what’s going on. This is my first year taking Latin — I really like it a lot. I’ve always liked the different mythology and Roman culture and Latin just kind of helps put it all together.”
Being in Relay for Life is also about supporting a good cause for Hertenstein. This is her fourth year being in the program, and for her it is personal.
“I’ve had different family members and friends who have had cancer and I want to be able to help find a cure and stop other people from having to deal with that,” she said.
Her favorite event organized by Relay For Life is the Polar Plunge, she said, because “all the students and community members jump into an ice-cold freezing pond just to raise money.”
Another such organization Hertenstein is a part of is the Holy Rosary church youth group, where the focus is supporting Agape Ministries and the community through its youth. Her favorite memory from the group so far was the Superbowl of Caring.
“(It’s where we) stand outside church on Super Bowl weekend banging pots (to raise money),” Hertenstein said. “It was really fun. It’s always neat to see the parish’s reaction to that.”
Being involved in the youth group opened Hertenstein’s eyes to the unseen and often overlooked side of the community that she had not seen before.
“It brings more of a community awareness,” she said. “I never realized we could have people here in St. Marys who are hungry and (who) need help.”
Another important element in Hertenstein’s life is music, which serves as a sort of therapy for her.
“It’s always been a big part of my life because it makes me feel better and it helps broadcast more the emotional side of things,” she said. “And I’ve always found that fascinating.”
Hertenstein plays the French horn for the school’s band, which she said she picked up because her mother used to play.
“I always wanted to try it,” Hertenstein said.
Hertenstein’s mother would play classical tunes at home all the time, often taking requests. She recently was able to showcase her talent during the All-Brass Band’s trip to Florida over winter vacation. Her favorite part, she said, was the Citrus Bowl Parade.
“There were strangers who were so excited to see the little old St. Marys marching Band,” she said. “They kept cheering us on because it was pouring. Once you got past the shock of playing in the rain, it was really fun.”
Even more recently, Hertenstein participated in eight different events the Solo and Ensemble program that was held at Memorial High School.
Hertenstein did a French horn solo, was in the brass choir, the mallet ensemble, the percussion ensemble where she played the xylophone, was in a French horn quartet, did a vocal solo, and a women’s vocal solo, and was in the chamber choir. She received the highest score of 1 on all performances except the French horn solo and brass choir, for which she received 2s. Hertenstein said she was pleased with all of her performances.
“I was tired because it was a long day, but I was very excited because we did very well overall,” she said.
In addition to being a singer and a musician, Hertenstein is a dancer. This is where her passion shows the most, as she wishes to dance on Broadway someday. Right now, she dances for Boyd Dance Studios, where she is a member of the competition team.
“We usually do one big performance in June with the entire studio — that includes the competition team and all the classes,” she said.
Her performances incorporate ballet, modern dance, jazz, tap and hip-hop, but modern dance is by far Hertenstein’s favorite.
“It’s more about telling a story with your movement, not just the song so I like the challenge of that,” she said. “I dance because it’s what I’ve always done. It helps me relieve any bad feelings I’ve ever had. If I’m stressed I go to dance class and I’m relaxed.”
Hertenstein has auditioned for the dance performance program at Ohio State University, where she hopes to attend in the fall, and is still waiting for an answer.
She is excited to take the first step in becoming independent that college presents.
“I’m looking forward to seeing other places than just St. Marys — to seeing the other side of things,” Hertenstein said. “(But I’m) nervous to be on my own — not having dad there to make me a sandwich if I don’t have time.”