A major success for All-State winners


Olivia Wolff

Gavin Sandvoss (11) is one of three of OHS students who received the choir All State award

Throughout high school, every student has something they look forward to accomplishing, whether it is becoming a member of a prestigious group or simply graduating. This year was no exception for Ben Lanier (12), Jacob Leath (11), and Gavin Sandvoss (11), who received the highest honor for high school choir students in the state of Missouri–All-State.

“All-State was the one thing I wanted to do since freshman year,” said Sandvoss. He added that what inspired this goal for him was “the amazing seniors” from his freshman year, who “really helped me and showed me the ropes, which made me confident as a singer.” 

Every year, only 16 students from the Saint Louis area are selected for All-State Choir. The winners then attend the massive Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA) Festival. This includes a trip to the Lake of the Ozarks where they train with professionals, meet the best choir students in Missouri, and perform on the last night for friends and family. Unfortunately, this year there will be no trip due to COVID-19, but the significance of their accomplishments remains.

“This is quite an honor and we are very proud of them,” said choir director Ms. Chelsea Ayres. “They won’t get to sing in an actual live ensemble this year, unfortunately, but to be selected as one of the four tenor representatives and four bass representatives from the St. Louis Suburban district is still a great honor.”

This was the first year making All-State for not only Sandvoss, but Leath as well. Leath was inspired to pursue All-State choir once he realized,”how good of an opportunity and experience it was just listening to people who had made it and hearing about how fun it was.” 

Lanier, the third OHS student to make All-State, made it last year as well. When he qualified last year, Lanier said, “it lit a fire in me that made me feel like it was possible.”

Lanier is the only senior who qualified this year. Knowing college is fast approaching, Lanier mentioned, “as I move on to college I will definitely keep on singing, but probably not in an organized choir. I plan to follow down the colorguard coaching path at least for a little while, and work towards getting a degree in graphic design and marketing.”

With the knowledge that the festival was cancelled all three winners agreed that as sad as it was, it’s for the best. “At the end of the day, everyone’s safety is the biggest priority,” said Lanier.

Both Sandvoss and Leath have confirmed to be trying out for All-State again next year, and hope that they will be able to participate in the MEAA festival in person.