SPRING HILL — There she was, Alexis Pletincks, conducting singers of the Hernando County Schools' all-county elementary and middle school choir for their final song on stage at the First United Methodist Church on March 30.
At one side of the stage stood her proud dad, Dave Pletincks, who directed the elementary group before turning things over to his daughter to direct the middle school group and the combined group finale. The dad-daughter duo for all-county was a first for Hernando schools.
"It's so exciting to come back to Hernando County," Alexis Pletincks, 23, told the audience. "It's where I got the start to where I am now."
After graduating from Weeki Wachee High School, she earned her choral music education degree from Florida State University and is in her second year teaching at Bayshore High School in Bradenton. She also directs the Sarasota Young Voices training choir, the beginning group for the traveling choir.
Her dad has been a band and choir director at Powell Middle School for the past 17 years and previously taught for five years in Ft. Myers. He also is choir director at the church that hosted the concert.
Alexis grew up with music in Hernando County's public schools. She was a standout from elementary through high school, where she was the first drum major at the new Weeki Wachee High, filling that role for her sophomore, junior and senior years. But it started long before that.
"Alexis was harmonizing at a young age. Her mom sings in the church choir, and I was her band and choir director at Powell," said her dad, adding that he liked being involved with his children — including his son Jonathan, who's now at Florida State — and encouraging their interests.
Nancy Kraus from Chocachatti Elementary, a magnet school for the arts, holds fond memories of Alexis Pletincks.
"We were doing 'Dear Edwina Jr.' and had a part for a soprano aria. Alexis was fourth grade. She sang the part and was phenomenal," said Kraus, who was thrilled to see Alexis conducting the choirs.
The 140 member all-county choir included 75 elementary students and 65 middle school students, representing three elementary schools, three K-8 schools and four middle schools.
"This is the first year for middle school students to be involved in all-county. The elementary program started five years ago," said Dave Pletincks, who has been a leader in the all-county presentations from the beginning.
The elementary and middle school groups each sang four songs before the groups joined together, with Alexis Pletincks conducting them in "How Can I Keep from Singing?"
When it was over, father and daughter shared a big hug.
"She's so much better that I ever was as a beginning teacher," said the happy dad.
Gail Diederich is a retired Pasco County teacher of 32 years. She writes feature stories with an education focus for Pasco and Hernando counties. She can be reached at email@example.com.