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Overcoming 'painful' shyness

HannahFinding your voice and your passion sometimes takes a lifetime.

For Hannah LePoidevin, a soprano at West Middle School, it has taken until eighth grade. She has just landed the lead role in the school’s production of “Annie.”
Hannah, who was once painfully shy, had a difficult time making friends, much less performing on stage in front of others. “The way I always get over my stage jitters is to tell myself that I am not there for me, I am there for my audience and cast. If I don’t perform, I’ll let everyone down.”

It was that kind of empathy and innocence that had West Middle students excited when Hannah landed the lead. “No one was jealous of her,” says Megan Roland, Hannah’s choir teacher. “ She is so sweet that everyone was just so proud of her.” Roland also added that Hannah is perfect as Annie because of her innocence and doe-like eyes. There is also the matter of her “really big” voice.

Encouraging Hannah to use her big voice was once a mighty challenge.

“Because of her shyness, she had a mental block,” recalls Roland. “She couldn’t sing big, let her magnificent voice come out.”

“It’s true,” confesses Hannah. “I was so shy.”

With encouragement from Roland, other teachers and her parents, Hannah slowly began to come out of her shell in seventh grade. She became a good friend with a girl who lived across the street and with a girl she performed with in musicals. Before long, Hannah’s circle of friends grew. The same with her voice; it kept growing and getting stronger.

Today, Hannah still strongly identifies with shy students, those with few friends and those who haven’t found their way. “I’d like to tell anyone else that it is possible to come out of your shyness. It just takes friends and help from parents and teachers.”

Hannah says her parents helped instill confidence in her by letting her make her own decisions. One of her biggest decisions was deciding whether to attend West Middle after spending her elementary years at Principia, where her father teaches.

“My parents helped me point out the pros and cons of each school, but I made the decision. Principia had a lot of activities that I loved, but West Middle also has a lot of activities and more diversity among students, so I opted for that. I also plan to attend West High School for the same reasons.”

“It’s been wonderful to watch her transformation,” says Roland, who expects to see Hannah on the stage someday.

“I just love to sing and act,” says Hannah. “I love that feeling when I am on stage.”