Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Monday

June 9, 2014

Video: Kingsley valedictorian serenades her way to graduation

(Video Special to the Record-Eagle/Rob Lint)

TRAVERSE CITY — Becky Lint's hands shook uncontrollably when she stepped to the front of the Kingsley High School graduation stage.

"I was really nervous," she said. "It still bothers me playing in front of people."

But the class of 2014 valedictorian overcame her nerves long enough to take her place behind a piano, not a podium, and deliver a memorable commencement speech. She tried to focus on the preceding speakers and not the thousands of eyes that stared back at her as she addressed 100 classmates and about 1,000 onlookers.

"We'll see if any of you, if this sounds familiar," she said, her rattling fingers calming enough to poke out the first notes of the song "Do you want to build a snowman?" from the Disney movie "Frozen."

The unorthodox speech — a five-minute compilation of re-written songs from the chart-topping film soundtrack — is the product of two weeks of sleepless nights and hours of family collaboration. Lint played piano since she was in third grade and plans to attend Western Michigan University to pursue a degree in music therapy.

A video of Lint's speech posted on YouTube rang up thousands of views by this morning.

She spent the past four months wrestling with ideas and themes for her commencement speech, but nothing seemed to fit, Lint said.

"It was really hard," she said. "I didn't really want to give advice because I didn't really have advice to give. (Music) has always been kind of a place for me to go and feel better."

So a musical sendoff made sense.

"I said 'Don't just go up there and talk; nobody is going to remember what you say,'" said Julie Lint of her daughter's speech. "I thought it should be like a piano bar."

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