The Amazing 8 Under 18: Belle’s story

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Superior High School Freshman Belle Modeen has had a passion for singing since she could barely walk.

“When she was tiny, she loved all Disney movies and getting her siblings involved in our little bands she would put together,” recalled her mother Nicole. “Her brothers are a couple years younger than she is, and so they would all have guitars and she played air guitar with them and they’d each have their their instruments that they would play as well.”

“I’ve always liked doing plays and just singing naturally,” said Belle. “I also do guitar in my room and try to write my own music, and singing just brings me joy”

An eager participant in her school’s choir, the freshman practices daily.

“She is a strong singer,” said Choir Director Jennifer Robbins. “She’s got a great ear. She’s an excellent music reader, which is something we work on in choir class, teaching people how to read notes and stuff like that. The combination of her strengths makes her a really great young musician and someone we’re glad to have in the choir.”

Talented in many ways, Belle is on the school dance team and active in school plays. Passionate about theater, she started acting at the age of eight in Duluth Playhouse’s Willy Wonka. Between Duluth Playhouse and school, Modeen’s been in over 20 plays since then, including Brigitta in “The Sound of Music,” Ghost of Christmas Past in “A Christmas Carol, and Lina Lamont in “Singing in the Rain.”

This spring, she will be playing the role of Pearl in her school’s spring play, Spongebob the Musical.

“I think she had the pipes that fit with that role needed,” said Robbins. “There’s some really high, belting notes that are really that are virtuosic and impressive, but they’re also funny.”

Cheri Tesarek co-directs the Superior High School Theater Department and has worked with Belle in many theater productions, including a summer play in which Belle had the star role in “Annie” the musical.

“Sometimes I wonder, is there anything that she can’t do?,” Tesarek said. “She’s an amazing dancer. She’s helping choreograph one of the numbers for Spongebob, a hip hop number, and keeping up with the academics and everything. She is what we call the triple threat. You know, somebody who can sing, dance and act as a triple threat.”

In addition to all of these extracurricular activities, Belle finds time to honor our veterans.

“I’d say when I was nine years old, I started doing national anthems,” recalled Belle. “Ever since I was little, I’ve always just love singing, and I found inspiring when people sang the national anthems.”

“To be able to sing the national anthem at nine years old in front of everyone, that’s quite an amazing feat to do,” siad Nicole. I don’t think even adults would be willing to just stand up and sing the national anthem, and so right now, at age 15, for her to sing the national anthem in front of all of her peers, I think that that is amazing.”

For the Modeen family, having respect for our military is something that is close to the heart.

“My husband’s cousin, Scott Modeen, died serving in the military,” explained Nicole. “We have very special friends in the area that serve in the military, and they have to leave their families at very short notice.”

“I just feel like people should notice it more instead of just thinking, ‘oh, this is just the national anthem we’re not going to stand, there’s nothing truly important about it.’ There is importance, people fight for us,” said Belle. “They actually are going out there and they’re doing something.”

Belle sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” at various athletic events around Superior, such as volleyball, baseball, and hockey games.

“Singing national anthems also bring me joy in knowing that I’m representing our country and helping others like noticed the national anthem more,” said Belle.

“You’re dealing with such a top quality individual, just a decent person,” said Tesarek. “People will say, ‘kids these days, they’re all boo’, and I look at somebody like Belle and just go, ‘wow, you haven’t met Belle’ because if you’re talking about kids today, she is one of those kids today and she is out there doing this wonderful thing for vets.”

Despite being only a freshman, Belle is planning her senior project.

“I’m starting to do like all those national anthems, and I’m building up to a concert my senior year to donate to people that are in need,” explained Belle. “Those national anthems, just building up to a big concert for me to perform, I just like this building up to that one thing makes it like better.”

Although a few years from now, Belle has the support of her teachers.

“I love this long-term goal,” said Robbins. “I think it’s really important in all of our music ensembles that the students can see how what they do can have an impact on the community. Choir is a community because we’re all working together, singing but then to take what you learned in that small community and give it to the larger community is really a beautiful thing.”

“It’s so wonderful to have a student like Belle who is so committed to doing the work, having the talent and investing the time, because that is a lot of time that you’re taking away from other things to do this,” Tesarek added. “So it’s wonderful that, like I say, she gives such great joy in our theater department, but it’s wonderful that she’s sharing her joy with the vets.”

Busy but dedicated, Belle has more national anthem singing planned in the future. The next will be in April.

“I can’t always tell what will happen in the future, but I feel like if I just follow my dreams and my goals, I’ll achieve them,” said Belle.