The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of honors and awards for Josh Couch, a soloist and bass singer with A Cappella Choir.
The senior walked away from the recent Brainerd High School Fine Arts Banquet with a $1,000 college scholarship from the choir's alumni association.
His senior class peers also voted Couch the "most musical student of the year," and he successfully auditioned -- along with the JACK Quartet -- to perform at graduation ceremonies May 31.
Now he's been selected as Fine Arts Student of the Week by choir director Mike Smith, in keeping with Couch's nomination as "best choral student" for the second semester.
If that isn't enough, consider this: Couch is awaiting word from poetry.com on whether he's won the Web site's annual writing contest, which carries a $10,000 college scholarship for the winner.
His poetic ode to saying goodbye to someone you love is a finalist in the contest, which attracts tens of thousands of entries each year.
Couch's poem "Goodbye" was inspired by last summer's romance with a girl he met at the Minnesota All-State Choir clinic at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, he said.
Earlier in the year, Couch -- who co-anchors the choir's bass section with twin brother Jesse -- soloed at the annual Alumni Concert, a role coveted each year by choir members. He sang "Every Time I Feel the Spirit" in keeping with the tradition.
His singing resume also includes a two-year stint with the All-State Choir, as well as two years with the Central Lakes College All-Conference Choir. He's also won a superior rating at three consecutive Region 8 solo and ensemble contests.
Couch has spent the year as a general assignment reporter with the Fifth Street Journal, contributing several investigative pieces, including a recent examination of why so many sophomores and juniors have failed to pass state-mandated academic standards, he said.
The story concluded the failure rates -- one-third of the sophomores and one in five juniors apparently fall short of the standards -- were attributed to the fact so many students hold jobs "they don't have time to do their homework," Couch said.
"But there's more than one cause, and it's easy to blame the standards because we are looking for a scapegoat," he said.
Throughout his student career, Couch has balanced his interest in singing with his passion for writing, an artistic focus he credits to his mother, freelance graphic designer Jan Finger of Baxter. His father, Ron Finger, also is a freelance illustrator and designer.
Couch also credits Smith with "opening my eyes to how much I love music."
"I'm not sure I would be the same person without A Cappella Choir," he said in an interview this week. "It's had a profound influence on everything I do, including my writing.
"I have something I want to be good at and it has made my life more full than it otherwise would be," he said, adding his mother encouraged him to try out for the choir as a sophomore.
Both Couches passed the rigorous audition as sophomores, a rarity in a performance group normally reserved for juniors and seniors. The twin brothers also will continue their education together in the fall, at York College in Nebraska.
Sara Danielson, senior, art: A graphic artist, Danielson is working on the senior slide show and a video scrapbook of her senior year. She is an outstanding artist and plans to attend Central Lakes College to continue her education, her teacher said.
Amanda Gibson, senior, A Cappella Choir: She has participated with the choir for the past two years, performing with Windfall and Smith Sister this year. She also is a member of the All-State Choir.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.