Matthew Nelson stays active on and off the stage

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Tuesday's Teen: See bonus video below

By Becca Owsley

Theater, music, scouting, school clubs and church activities give John Hardin High School senior Matthew Nelson plenty to balance.


He’s been active in the Youth Theatre of Hardin County since the summer after seventh grade.

“It introduced me to performance oriented stuff,” Nelson said.

Through Youth Theatre, he started to enjoy being in front of people.

His best memories are from the first show he was a part of, “The Wizard of Oz.” The students involved were great and the seniors really helped the younger participants, he said.

It was a popular show.

“Every night the whole auditorium was full,” he said.

This summer will mark his last production but he hopes to come back and help out after he graduates.

“Youth Theatre has really introduced me to what Broadway is,” he said.

He not only learned new shows but, more importantly, met interesting people and saw them grow through the years, he said.

Youth Theatre president Betty Marsee said Nelson is from a musical family and is also a part of the theater’s touring group, Salute.

“He’s the kind of guy you would like your daughter to go out with,” Marsee said.

Because he enjoyed Youth Theatre, Nelson joined choir at JHHS his freshman year. He had never sang in a choir before but wanted to give it a try.

“I look back and think, ‘Why did I join choir again?’” he said.

Because of his choir experience he not only learned he could sing but it opened up other opportunities, he said. He made the all-state choir all four years of high school and attended the Governor's School for the Arts last summer.

“Matthew has been in JHHS’s Advanced Choir since the beginning of his freshman year,” choral teacher Phyllis Westfall said. “I realized his potential almost immediately and have watched him grow as a vocalist and as an amazing young man.”

She said she knows Nelson will “go far” in what he does in the future.

In addition to choir, Nelson is in the marching, concert and pep bands at John Hardin. He likes playing a variety of musical instruments including banjo, guitar, keyboards, tuba, trombone and ukulele.

He recently began writing music and finds music has a lot to do with his favorite school subject, math. The rhythm, counting beats and dividing it all has been very interesting to Nelson and he equates it to math.

Nelson is also active in Boy Scouts. He joined the scouts as a Tiger Cub in kindergarten, became a Boy Scout in sixth grade and earned his Eagle Scout honors his sophomore year of high school.

Through scouting Nelson has become involved in things that require public speaking and knowledge of things in the world, he said.

At school, Nelson is in the National Honors Society, president of the Young Republicans/Politically Active Students Club and President of the FCA.

He said it was important for high school students to be active in a variety of things.

“As a high school student in this day and age we are given so many opportunities and often we like to close off all those opportunities. But once you close off an opportunity it’s hard to get it back,” he said.

Along with being president of FCA he also leads in the worship music for the club meetings.

“He is a very friendly, outgoing and talented guy who anyone is lucky to be around,” former JHHS student and FCA member Zach Puckett said.

Nelson lends his musical talents to Immanuel Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, too, assisting with youth group and worship services.

His spiritual growth over the past two years has been important, he said.

“I feel like God is calling me to be his child,” Nelson said.

He hopes to attend the University of Louisville or Western Kentucky University after graduation.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1741 or bowsley@ thenewsenterprise.com.

Getting to know Matthew Nelson:
Favorite music: He enjoys almost every genre.
Pets: Two cats, Lolo and Polly
Favorite book: He gets a new favorite every time he reads a book required for AP literature. Currently he’s reading “The Road.”
Siblings: Two brothers and a sister
Favorite subject: Math
Hobbies: Doing things outdoors like hiking, biking, camping and backpacking. He’s learning to unicycle and attempting to skateboard.
Favorite television show: “Monk”