LEWISTOWN, Mo. -- Megee Miller remembers holding her breath and her heart racing as her son Quinton Miller, 8, took his place on the Highland High School gym floor Jan. 6.
The stadium seats were packed for the Clark County-Highland girls basketball tournament at Highland, and Quinton had been asked to sing the national anthem before tip off.
He took a few moments to compose himself, then Quinton sang, "Oh, say can you see...." When he finished delivering the famous song, he received standing ovation from the audience, and his mother was relieved.
"I was nervous, but he didn't seem nervous at all," Miller said. "I think he was a little embarrassed at the end for all of the attention."
Quinton clarified he was nervous beforehand.
It was Quinton's fourth time performing the national anthem in front of an audience in Lewis County, but that was the largest audience he had performed for yet, he said. As only a second-grader, Quinton's already developing a local reputation for his singing abilities.
"He's our little singer for sure," Miller said. "He's been interested in singing since he was younger."
However, his parents waited until Quinton was older before getting him involved in singing lessons.
"(Highland Elementary School) music teacher Megan Carmody has been great about working with Quinton," Miller said. "She's the one who's really encouraged his talents."
Carmody said Quinton is a model student.
"It is rare to have a student so young have such natural singing talent. I think the greatest thing about Quinton other than his beautiful voice is his work ethic and positive attitude," she said. "When he was asked to sing the 'Star-Spangled Banner' for the first time last year, he asked me every day if he could come to my classroom after school to practice."
In addition, last year Quinton took vocal lessons from 2017 Highland alum Camden Scifres before he left for college. Scifres used to sing the national anthem at Highland's Flag Day during summer school, but with the teen's graduation, Quinton, 7 at the time, made his debut singing the national anthem at the June event.
The next month, he sang the national anthem the Lewis County Fair. He's performed the song twice more at different events since then.
"I practice it a lot," Quinton said.
Miller explained that as well as enjoying singing, the second-grader enjoys playing the piano, soccer, baseball and acting. Lately, she said, Quinton has been participating in local plays.
"Quinton got to play the role of the baby elephant bird in our high school's production of 'Seussical' last spring," Carmody said. "He was having trouble with some of the choreography, so he sought out one of our high school cast members on his own and asked the student to show him the steps and practice with him until he got it down perfectly.
"I think it's one thing to be talented at an activity and something completely different to be talented and have the drive to improve that talent. Quinton displays that incredible drive to get better and learn everything he can every single day. I can't wait to see all the amazing things this kid will do as he gets older."
When asked if Quinton could see himself pursuing his love of music as an adult, he said yes.
"We are so proud of him," Miller said of her son. "He works hard at everything he does."