Zakk Ottmers, a senior at Ballinger High School, was named to the Texas Small Schools All-State Mixed Choir. Ottmers is the first BHS student to be named to an all-state music organization in more than 20 years.

Zakk Ottmers, a senior at Ballinger High School, was named to the Texas Small Schools All-State Mixed Choir. Ottmers is the first BHS student to be named to an all-state music organization in more than 20 years.
  He earned this honor at auditions held Saturday, January 7, at Lee High School in Midland. Ottmers will rehearse and perform with the choir as part of the 2017 TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) Convention/Clinic, held annually in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio February 8-11. The concert is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, February 11, in the Stars at Night Ballroom of the convention center.   "We truly commend Zakk on the tremendous accomplishment of being selected to the All-State Choir and wish him much joy and success as he participates in the All-State Choir Clinic and Concert in San Antonio," said Choral Director Dale Ellis.

Chosen for this prestigious honor through a competitive process held this year across the state at District, Region, Pre-Area, and Area levels, Ottmers placed in the top 7 of 31 tenors who were finalists in the Area A Auditions, with students from five West Texas regions.

Texas Music Educators Association sponsors the Texas All-State competitions. All music faculty members of Ballinger ISD, Janet Wilson, Matthew Cleveland, and Dale and Ida Lee Ellis, are members of this Association, a 12,000 plus member organization headquartered in Austin.


High school students selected to perform in the All-State concerts have competed through several levels of auditions beginning in the fall of 2016 to qualify at the state level. All-State is the highest honor a Texas music student can receive. A total of 1,780 students are selected through a process that begins with over 68,000 students from around the state vying for the honor to perform in one of the 15 all-state bands, orchestras, and choirs. This competitive process begins throughout the state in auditions hosted by 33 TMEA Regions. Individual musicians perform selected music for a panel of judges who rank each instrument or voice part. From this ranking, a select group of musicians advances from their Region to compete against musicians from other areas in seven TMEA Area competitions. The highest-ranking musicians judged at the TMEA Area competitions qualify to perform in a TMEA All-State music group. Only the top 2.6 percent of musicians who initially audition become All-State musicians.


Ottmers has been named to All-Region choirs every year beginning with his seventh grade year, and has taken top chair in several auditions for these choirs.


Ottmers,  the son of Eric and Starr Sims, is a member of the Ballinger High School Vocal Music Program and has served as Co-Drum Major for the Ballinger Bearcat Band the past two years and trumpet section leader all four years. Ottmers has been very active in band, theater arts, speech, and choir, and his participation in each of these activities has contributed to this outstanding accomplishment.


Band directors Janet Wilson and Matthew Cleveland, Choral Director Dale Ellis, elementary music teacher Ida Lee Ellis, who plays piano accompaniments for many of his vocal events, along with theater arts director Deidra Dallas, have had the privilege of having Ottmers in each of their programs over many years, beginning with his 2009 performance as Thomas O’Malley in Disney’s "The Aristocats KIDS." Each of these instructors is extremely appreciative of Zakk’s many academic and artistic accomplishments and his outstanding service to the school and community.


Ottmers' academic performance throughout his high school career has been exceptional. He currently ranks second of 68 students. He is a member of the National Honor Society and has received several Who’s Who and Academic Honor Awards, including a Rotary Youth Leadership Award in 2016. In speaking events, Ottmers has qualified for state in Extemporaneous Speaking and CX Debate, taking seventh place at State in Extemporaneous Speaking his sophomore and junior years. His theater arts record has been outstanding. His career includes leading roles his junior and senior years in the UIL One Act Plays "Death of a Salesman" where he played the lead role of Biff, and "Reckless" where he played the role of Lloyd. He also played Captain Von Trapp in "The Sound of Music" and Don Lockwood in "Singing in the Rain."  


Ottmers has also  served in numerous leadership roles in the many organizations of which he is a member including vice president of Rotary Interact, president of the Ballinger Junior Chamber of Commerce, president of Class Government, vice president of the Investment Club, and co-founder and president of the Thespians Club. He is also currently serving as Student Council president.

In community service, Ottmers, along with co-worker McKenzie Arrott, took first place of 20 community improvement projects submitted in the Leadership Texas Midwest Community Network Town Beautification Project. Their project was updating and beautifying the Pioneer Plaza in downtown Ballinger by refurbishing the gazebo and fountain and adding benches and trash receptacles.