May 14, 2013 10:00 am
Updated: May 14, 2013 5:07 pm

From a struggling student to an inspirational leader

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It takes Te’Anne Collins more than an hour to get to school on public transit. But for her, it’s worth it.

Te’Anne is one of many talented students who audition to be a part of the musical theatre program at Wexford Collegiate School of the Arts.

“She is someone with an immense amount of unbelievable talent,” says music teacher, Ann Merriam. “She has been an example of somebody who was not a privileged young person.”

Te’Anne works two jobs so she can pay for her commute to school, her cell phone and her own food.

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“I learned really early that nothing just comes to you,” she says.

Te’Anne has come a long way since she first came to Wexford in grade nine. She was new to the school and started hanging out with the wrong crowd. Her lifestyle and the wrong attitude were causing her marks to slip; that’s when Ann pulled her aside.

“She told me that she doesn’t even know who I am and she’s already hearing bad things about me,” says Te’Anne. “When I think about it now, I deserved it.”

Now in grade 12, Te’Anne fought her way to the front of the stage and earned a place as one of the “Wexford Gleeks” – a glee club that Ann has been running for over 20 years.

“We are what Canada is, every single colour, race, creed, religion, so diverse,” Ann says. “You get students who are schooled and have vocal teachers and dance teachers and acting teachers and then you get kids who have nothing but raw, raw talent and the glint in their eye that they want to love it and if they love it we’re the right school absolutely.”

Ann is the founder of the renowned musical theatre program that has been captivating audiences for years. A bit of a maverick herself, she quietly kick-started the program back in the 80’s on a shoe-string budget, despite a principal’s initial protests. Word began to spread and soon parents were flooding the school board with phone calls about auditions.

“It’s that old phrase and I’ve said it for years, if you build it, they will come,” she says.

The Wexford Gleeks are now one of the top contenders at the 2013 Show Choir Canada competition. And 16×9 followed them, rehearsal after rehearsal, in the months leading up to the event.

Watch 16×9 this Friday for a centre-stage look at the real glee club at Wexford Collegiate.

© 2013 Shaw Media

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