Lena has a note from Gov.-elect Jay Inslee to miss school Wednesday

Nine-year-old Lena Hou will sing the National Anthem at the inauguration of Gov.-Elect Jay Inslee, right, on Wednesday. - Submitted
Nine-year-old Lena Hou will sing the National Anthem at the inauguration of Gov.-Elect Jay Inslee, right, on Wednesday.
— image credit: Submitted

Nine-year-old Lena Hou will skip school Wednesday to do something few could use as an excused absence: she will sing to the state's newest governor.

Lena of Renton, who attends Sierra Heights Elementary School, was personally selected by Gov.-elect Jay Inslee last month to perform the National Anthem at his inauguration. Inslee spotted Lena at a community event, liked her singing and inquired about the fourth grader performing in Olympia on Jan. 16.

Lena has been taking voice lessons since 2010, with Lucinda Maxey, a Renton soprano. For the past two months, she has been working on the "Star Spangled Banner" with Gretchen Rillos, her piano and vocal coach.

Last Friday, Lena traveled with her mom to the state capitol for a rehearsal. It was the Lena's first time there. Lena's mother Evelyn said the House Chamber was "so unreal."

Lena was equally amazed by what she saw at the capitol.

"It's so amazing," she said. "I never thought it would be like that. I saw chandeliers with carvings; it was really beautiful inside."

When asked how she feels about her upcoming performance, Lena said, "Well, a little nervous and a little excited."

Monday and Tuesday Lena performed for her friends at recess at Sierra Heights.

"They keep on dropping their jaws," said Lena of her friends' reaction to her news.

She has performed before for the state chapter of the Japan America Society. Hou has also participated in Fat Chance Opera, the Seattle Opera's Youth Chorus and various community concerts.

"I'm really honored, too," said Lena about Inslee's request. "This is a really a great opportunity and I want it to be a really good day for Gov. Inslee."


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