PINE RIVER -- As a ninth-grader, Sarah Walker already is a veteran player in the Brainerd High School Chamber Orchestra, where she anchors the violin section.
She first picked up the instrument as a 7-year-old, successfully auditioning for the orchestra as a seventh-grader, a rare accomplishment.
This year she has emerged as the section's first-stand co-principal, a role that has won for her a nomination as Fine Arts Student of the Week by director Grant Wilcox.
Walker expects to successfully audition this weekend for the Minnesota All-State High School Orchestra, adding to her resume as a second-stand first violinist for the Minnesota Middle Level Honors Orchestra.
Homeschooled from her Pine River residence since fifth grade, Walker comes to BHS each day for orchestra practice as an open enrollment student.
Earlier this year she soloed at an orchestra concert and earned a perfect score at the State String Contest last April.
Her mother, Lisa, introduced her to the piano when Walker was 4, adding the violin a few years later "because it sounded like fun," the musician said in an interview this week.
"I haven't really decided about my career as of yet," Walker said, "but it will have something to do with music. I'm not sure I want to go into performing but might consider teaching it (music).
"It takes a lot of commitment," said Walker, who practices her violin about two hours every weekday, taking a break on weekends. On occasion, she plays at church services, conducted by her pastor-father Timothy at the family's Pine River church.
Walker also holds down a part-time job at a local ice cream shop and plays softball on a local team, serves as a youth group volunteer at her church, and participates with an improvisational comedy troupe in Pine River.
Peter Van der Hagen, junior, speech: He placed first in the informative speaking category at a recent speech tournament.
Derrick Paulson, senior, art: "Derrick is methodical, thorough and can meet a deadline as well as any student I've had in class," his art instructor said. "He has a unique personal style that often includes a border of symbols or geometric patterns, and his work is very detailed and often done in ink."
Sara Peterson, senior, Fifth Street Journal: "Sara is ambitious and creative," the newspaper's faculty adviser said. "She did an excellent job planning and preparing our winter fund-raiser, and her stories are well thought out."
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