Senior Spotlight: Marissa Ahmadkhani and Dylan Jensen


The first soprano of Gilroy High School’s Chamber Choir comes
highly praised by choral director Phil Robb, but persuading her to
try it out freshman year took some parental nudging.
NAME: Marissa Ahmadkhani

AGE: 17; GPA: 3. 67

DREAM JOB: “Being able to play violin and be in orchestra and travel … something involving music.”

FAVORITE QUOTE: “Dwell in possibility.” – Emily Dickinson

The first soprano of Gilroy High School’s Chamber Choir comes highly praised by choral director Phil Robb, but persuading her to try it out freshman year took some parental nudging.

“At first I didn’t want to join,” said the musician-turned-singer. “But once I did, I really loved it.” For anyone who has recently basked in the harmonies of GHS’s Chamber Choir, Marissa Ahmadkhani is the member who occasionally provides violin accompaniment.

Robb recalled seeing Ahmadkhani play the violin in junior high, and then “one day, on the first day of (high) school, there she was, sitting in my class.”

With GHS lacking a string program, “for her not to do music would have been a no-no,” said Robb. “I found out her mom made her take the class. I’m grateful for that.”

As Ahmadkhani recalled her favorite high school experiences, it’s choir that trumps everything else and elicits the fondest thoughts.

“So many good memories came out of that, I can’t really pick one,” said Ahmadkhani. The next stage of her life is immersion in the liberal arts as Ahmadkhani studies English and minors in music at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

She’ll be living in the culture-centric town with no end of niche bookstores, literary circles and local musicians; a fitting destination for someone who loves British literature, reads all the time and has recently gotten into poetry.

“It’s going to be kind of scary, living on my own for the fist time,” she said. “But I’m excited to just go and start something new.”

Poised as Ahmadkhani is for a new chapter, it’s double-loss for Robb. He’s relished the handiness of an on-demand violin player in his chamber’s inner circle. “I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to have Marissa in the choir,” said Robb, adding Ahmadkhani and her spotlight counterpart, Dylan Jensen, “will leave a huge hole in the program – more so than usual.”


NAME: Dylan Jensen

AGE: 18; GPA: 3.58

DREAM JOB: Anchorman

FAVORITE QUOTE: “I’m kind of big deal.” – Ron Burgundy

Starter on the varsity men’s basketball team, choir crooner, Prince Charming in Gilroy High School’s production of “Cinderella,” Dylan Jensen is one big ball of personality. Or, “a handful,” as GHS choral director Phil Robb puts it.

“It’s been fun to watch him grow up over the years,” said Robb. “In the last year he’s become a young man. He has matured a lot.”

A social butterfly whose favorite saying comes from “Anchorman,” Jensen enjoys goofing around and spoofing the Backstreet Boys in homemade videos with his friends.

He plans to re-bundle all that into a vocation, naturally.

“I want to be an anchor or producer. I’m not sure which one yet,” said Jensen, who is heading to Brigham Young University come fall.

If one thing is for certain, basketball games won’t be the same without Jensen. He’s part of a warbling group of six varsity basketball players who also belong to GHS choirs.

“We had all the parts figured out, and said, ‘Why don’t we sing the National Anthem on our own?’ What other team does that?” said the senior alto, who participates in Men’s Chorus and the Chamber Choir.

Initially, several people told Jensen they thought it was a recording, while “other teams just looked at us confused.” While audiences have loved it, Jensen said his coach might be looking forward to the peace and quiet.

“Randomly break into song? Oh yeah, all the time. Our coach hated it,” he laughed. “When we’d mess up a play, he’d say ‘Stop singing during my practice and you probably would have gotten that right.’ ”

At one point during the year, Jensen was balancing sports, choir, academics and the play, departing from home at 6 a.m. in the morning and returning at about 8 or 9 p.m.

He’s ready for new challenges at BYU, but “kinda sad that my mom won’t cook for me every night. That’s pretty much the biggest worry.”

Though migrating far from his friends, Jensen is armed with a promising icebreaker: “I have a mean pop, lock, n’ drop it.”

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