COLUMBIA — Jennifer Hopper wanted to help a place that helped her.
Last summer, Hopper — who sings and plays the oboe, clarinet and saxophone — attended the Missouri Fine Arts Academy to practice music, theater and visual arts.
The academy is a three-week summer residential program run by Missouri State University in Springfield, where high school students can study topics in the creative arts, such as music, visual arts, theater, dance and creative writing.
"It helped me to become a better artist," she said. "I want to make sure that everyone gets a good experience like I did."
To help give back to the academy, the Hickman High School senior tapped her peers in the Hickman Music Society to perform a benefit concert at 7 p.m. Friday at the First Presbyterian Church, located at 16 Hitt St.
Hopper also organized Friday's concert as part of her application for First Presbyterian's Earl and Ruth Kroth Scholarship Fund, which provides money to help pay for college. To get this scholarship, high school seniors must create their own service project and then organize and implement their plan.
"My best gift to offer was music," she said.
On Friday, the Hickman Music Society will play classical and jazz ensembles, and some students will perform solos. The Hickman Music Society is completely student organized and includes 30 student musicians. The students pick the songs and where they want to perform.
Kyle Rainey, a senior and two-year member of the music society, said he was really excited about the concert performance.
"It is a way to play for people who want to hear us," he said. "It is also a great way to run through our performance for the district festival."
The Northeastern Missouri District Music Festival is being held next weekend in Mexico, Mo., where high school students will compete in both solo and group performances to receive ratings. Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the best score. Students who receive a 1 rating are allowed to compete at the state competition.
In the future, Hopper hopes to continue playing music and major in music therapy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
"I like the way music influences how I feel," she said. "I like how I can affect people with my music."
Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.