John Atkinson: The Man Behind The Name


Erin McNemar

Growing up your parents always told you to try your best, and be the best person you can be. John Atkinson, who graduated from Nashoba last year, was able to show many of his talents during, and now after high school.

Atkinson says, “My parents showed me everything from Zeppelin to Aba, so it’s always been a part of my life.”  Atkinson was born in Emerson Hospital and lived in Acton for a short period of time. It was then he moved to Lancaster where he began school. He went to Mary Rowlandson Elementary School followed by Luther Burbank Middle, and then to Nashoba Regional High School. Atkinson is now a Liberal Arts major at Greenfield Community College, but plans to transfer next year and study music education with a focus on classical voice. Atkinson has always had a passion for music.

Since the age of 5, Atkinson has been in church choir. He also began chorus at Nashoba his sophomore year. At Nashoba there are several different singing groups one can be in. However, Atkinson decided that he wanted to create one that was different from all the rest. In 2013, Atkinson and his friend Carson Bond co-founded the school’s first a cappella club, The Chieftones.

The group received very high praise when they debuted in their first concert, performing “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz.

“Carson and myself wanted to start a men’s a capella choir because there was multiple girls only choir groups, and we didn’t have a piano player.” says Atkinson. The group however became a both men and women’s choir. Atkinson is very proud of the group, and the fact they are still performing even though he graduated.

Atkinson was also an active member in band. He picked up the trumpet when he was in the 4th grade, and hasn’t put it down since. Atkinson played in Nashoba’s concert band as well as their advanced jazz band. He is a very talented trumpet player, and excellent friend. Many of the other band members say that Atkinson was very supportive and made them want to be better players.

In addition to being a singer and being in band, Atkinson was a dancer at Paula Meola Dance and Performing Arts for 13 years. Taking Tap, Ballet, Jazz and Hip Hop, Atkinson developed a love for dance.

“I think my favorite would definitely have to be ballet because it’s the most technical.” Says Atkinson.

With his passion for music and dance, it’s no surprise to learn about his love for acting and performing.

Atkinson started doing theater his junior year of high school when he landed the role of Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He then went on to be in “Les Miserables”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and “Peter Pan”. Atkinson also was in a production of “Trial By Jury” put together by former Nashoba student Peter Murphy.

“I just love entertaining. Doesn’t matter if I’m singing, dancing or acting. If I can make people leave one of my performances with a smile on their face, then I’ve done my job.” Says Atkinson.

Not only is Atkinson a strong performer artist wise, but he is also an extraordinary distance runner. Atkinson has been running for about 8 years. He participated in track and cross country all throughout middle school and high school, and worked relentlessly to become a better athlete.

“A lot of people don’t think much of running, but it’s far from a game. You don’t ‘play’ cross country or track. It’s the definition of giving it your all, because there is no room for failure at the finish line.” explains Atkinson.

Although Atkinson graduated last year, several students at Nashoba are still very close with him. Senior Kayla Lawlor, who has known Atkinson for years through dance and school, discussed Atkinson as a friend.

“John Atkinson is one of my best friends and Nashoba is so sad without him. He’s the Jimmy you can always talk to, and he can always brighten my day.” Says Lawlor.

One of the many amazing qualities of Atkinson is he always wants to make sure everyone feels included. Being on the outside of things can be hard especially when you’re still trying to get your footing in high school.

Junior Jessie Harmon, who met Atkinson her freshmen year, felt very welcomed by him when she was trying to make the transition from middle school to high school.

“He introduced me to a lot of new things and new people because I was young and he was like ‘let me show you the world.’ He has always been very supportive, and occasionally he will just show up in places and I’ll be like ‘John Atkinson!’ and he’ll be like ‘aye.’” Expresses Harmon.

Atkinson has proven to be a great friend to the important people he surrounds himself with. Junior Lea Markham talks about what Atkinson’s friendship over the years had meant to her.

“When I first met him I wasn’t really sure what to think about him because he was kind of strange but I was like ‘you know what, this kid is really nice.’ Then I got to know him a little bit better and he’s really funny, and he’s really supportive. When I was having a couple issues myself he would always be there, and always be willing to listen to what I needed to say. He’d help me out a lot and he has a different way of thinking, so he’s able to give me ideas that maybe I didn’t see before. As a person I think he’s a great guy and I’m glad I can be his friend.” Says Markham.

Atkinson’s ability to bring happiness to the people around him is phenomenal. Whether it’s through music, dancing, sports or just being a shoulder to cry on, Atkinson has proven to be a very important person in so many people’s lives. His musical and athletic abilities are endless, and he is constantly trying to improve them.

“John Atkinson is a man of many talents. He’s great at singing, at the trumpet, he’s great at running and like talking, and he danced. He was a pretty good ballerina.” Expresses Lawlor.

Atkinson has also touched so many people with the lifelong friendships and support he offers.

“He gave me a lot of confidence and reassured me that everything was going to be okay.” Explains Markham.

Even if you didn’t know Atkinson when he was at Nashoba, his contributions to the music department, his achievements in running, and his loving support for his friends helped better the Nashoba community in a unique way. There is no one quite like John Atkinson.


A Capella Performance: