As a sophomore, Sara DePoppe opted for a back chair in the Chamber Orchestra rather than a front seat in the Sinfonia Orchestra, saying, "I wanted a bigger challenge."
"I had a choice to be the best in Sinfonia or the worst in the Chamber," she said this week, "and I chose to be the worst.
"I didn't want to just think that I could stay in place and be the best," she added. "It helped me improve."
And her decision paid off. As a senior, DePoppe is the principal chair in the viola section and her attitude -- "I always want to get better," she said -- has been rewarded with a nomination as Fine Arts Student of the Week.
She will be on stage next week when the orchestras perform their first concert of the year, featuring a Baroque piece that she calls her favorite musical period.
"Baroque is my favorite music," she said. "I like the sound of it. It sounds cool."
DePoppe, a Brainerd native, started taking violin lessons as a sixth-grader at Washington Middle School.
But she switched to viola -- a larger instrument with a deeper, richer sound than violin -- during her sophomore year. She anchors the section as a senior.
DePoppe, who holds a 3.17 grade-point average, aspires to become a high school orchestra director. She will attend Evangel University in Springfield, Mo., majoring in music education.
"I want to go there because it's a Christian college and it sounds really interesting," she said. "People are one on one and I really like that."
In her spare time, DePoppe teaches violin and viola to beginning players in the Community Education program.
"I've been teaching one on one with younger kids for a while and because I'm good at it I know I could teach orchestra (at the high school level)," she said. "It's something I would enjoy doing."
DePoppe is also active in her church, Assemblies of God Church of Brainerd, participating in youth groups and "worship teams."
"God has given me this talent and I think I should use it," she said of her musical skills.
Veronica Miller, senior, creative writing: "She's a creative storyteller with a fine-tuned sense of humor, and her characters are subtle representations of all of us," her teacher says.
Katie Lykins, senior, Symphonic Band: The president of the band, she earned a superior rating in the Solo and Ensemble Contest and shows great leadership, according to her teacher.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.