Oxford Area High School 'Best of the Class' taking talents to Ivy League
Oxford Area High School senior Christian Kelly, son of Karen and James Kelly, is among the more than 250 Philadelphia area and Lehigh Valley students honored as part of the 30th annual “Best of the Class” by WPVI-TV 6abc.
“Best of the Class” members gathered at Drexel University for a 6abc special broadcast May 19. The students will also be featured in one-minute vignettes during 6abc programming though the end of June.
Christian was recently accepted to Cornell University, where he will study biology this fall in anticipation of a career in medicine. He is among the Southern Chester County high school seniors recently announced as recipients of the Alma Newlin Educational Fund scholarship to assist students in preparing for careers in the health care field.
Christian, who has been a youth volunteer at Jennersville Regional Hospital for the past four summers, said his college choices ultimately came down to Cornell and the University of Virginia.
“Both schools have beautiful campuses and great biology departments, but when I visited Cornell it just felt right, and I knew that was where I wanted to be,” said Christian, who admitted his visit was on a warm spring day but is prepared for the cold, snowy winters of Ithaca, N.Y.
Christian is president of the high school chapters of National Honor Society and the Tri-M Music Honor Society, as well as the Helping Hands Community Service Club. He is a four-year member of the varsity tennis team, captain of the high school’s team in the Chester County Academic Competition and has produced the high school’s morning newscast since his freshman year.
Christian has been involved in the Oxford Area School District instrumental music program since third grade when he began playing clarinet. In the marching band, he was named a section leader in his junior year and was one of three drum majors in his senior year, as well as band treasurer.
Christian has been a member of his school choruses since fifth grade, and as a junior was selected to perform with the All-State Chorus at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) State Conference. He was selected to perform at PMEA District 12 chorus festivals in each of his four high school years and the PMEA Region VI chorus festivals in his junior and senior years.
In addition to his band and chorus activities, Christian has appeared in high school theatre productions including Beauty and the Beast and I’m Getting Murdered in the Morning. He played the lead role of J. Pierrepont Finch in the recent spring musical, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, appearing in nearly every scene.
“I was really excited to get the role,” said Christian, who had previously played the lead role of Jesus in the Avon Grove Community Theater production of Godspell. “Rehearsals started earlier than usual for a musical and it was a lot of hard work, but I loved being in the show and performing with the cast members, who were all excellent.”
Christian was recently appointed to the administrative staff at Avon Grove Community Theater and is serving as assistant director and stage manager for its upcoming production of The Music Man. He hopes to continue his participation in chorus and theater while at Cornell.
“I know I will have a heavy course load, but performing has always been a way for me to say sane,” said Christian, who as a senior has taken AP courses in biology, U.S. history, calculus and English literature.
Christian said he began to love music and think seriously about singing and playing while a third grader at Nottingham Elementary School. “Being part of the music program in Oxford has been a great experience for me, and all of my music teachers have been really wonderful,” he said, particularly high school instrumental director Erin Kauppila and choral director Julie Skrapits. “They always encouraged me to try to achieve excellence and to be confident in performing at the music festivals. They helped me broaden my horizons musically.”
Christian also credited his private music teacher, Lisa Patrick, with helping him to fully develop his talents. He will present a senior recital on Friday, June 15 at 7 p.m. at Oxford Presbyterian Church, accompanied on piano by fellow Class of 2012 member Joe Cosentino.
Those attending the recital are asked to make a donation to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, which Christian has supported for several years. As a junior he produced, directed and performed in “Expression,” an evening of performances by high school music students that raised $1,000 for Relay for Life.
Oxford Area School District Superintendent Dr. Raymond Fischer said he had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Christian when he entered fifth grade at Elk Ridge School, where Dr. Fischer was principal at the time. “I could see then that Christian possessed unique talents, and leadership qualities, that would take him far in his school years and ultimately in college and a career,” said Dr. Fischer. “I am confident that we will be hearing about Christian and his future achievements for many years to come.”