Twelve-year-old Stephanie Slagle is a Powell Middle School seventh-grade soprano.
She also has Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that has affected her ability to interact socially. But Stephanie says she chooses to focus instead on her talent as a musician, and it has served her well.
She was recently selected to be part of the All-State Chorus, which will perform in Tampa in January.
"I feel like it's a real gift for me to be in such a high position," Stephanie said.
A quote by Hans Asperger, who identified the syndrome, is one of her favorites: "It seems that for success in science or art, a dash of autism is essential."
Stephanie attends Powell only part of each day.
"I do Virtual School, and for fifth and sixth periods I have reading, and right now I have Chorus 4," she explained.
Her virtual classes are taken online at home.
Despite her Asperger's, Stephanie has done well in chorus, said director David Pletincks.
"It's taken her some time to adjust to the normal expectations of classroom and rehearsal procedures, but she's really doing a fantastic job," Pletincks said.
The chorus recently performed at Universal Studios in Orlando, and Stephanie had a solo.
"I've been singing for a long time," she said. "It means a lot to me. I'm just really blessed to have such a good voice, and I thank God very strongly for that."
Stephanie will be in the All-State Treble Choir with Powell eight-graders Haley Neuhausen and Lainey McDaniel, both 13.
Powell students who qualified for the All-State Mixed Choir are eighth-graders Kallie Carlton, 14; twins Julia and Emily Kolbasiuk, 13; Emma Carter, 13; Karli Ulto, 13; Jonnie Pletincks, 13; and Bodhi Sbashnig, 13.
"All-State is a great music learning experience for middle schoolers," Emily said.
"All-State is an unforgettable experience," Haley added.
Said Lainey: "It's really nice meeting new people."
"I can't wait to work with the conductor," said Karli.
Along with Powell's All-State musicians, Challenger K-8 eighth-grader Kelsey Morrill qualified for the All-State Treble Choir. There were also two former Powell students who made the high school all-state choirs — Springstead High School 10th-grader Kelli Wall and Nature Coast Technical High ninth-grader Emma Roberts, Pletincks said.
"In order to be selected to one of the all-state choirs, sponsored by the Florida Vocal Association, students must pass a 50-question music theory test, a sightreading exam and a vocal audition judged by five choral directors from around the state," Pletincks said. "Students who pass all phases of these auditions then have their composite scores ranked against all other students on their voice parts in the state, and then the highest-scoring students are placed in the corresponding all-state choir."