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“I Belong in 7” Story Series
This year, we are shining the spotlight on members of our D7 family in a new “I Belong in 7” story series. Our first one falls during Hispanic Heritage Month, so we are pleased to introduce you to Spartanburg High School senior Ezra Anderson.
As concertmaster of the SHS Orchestra and Spartanburg Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Ezra is an accomplished musician who has earned numerous honors, such as selection for All State Orchestra, the Piedmont Chamber Orchestra, and the Brevard Music Center Summer Festival. He was also honored nationally by the College Board for his academic achievement as a National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar. After graduation next spring, he will begin working towards a Bachelor’s in Music degree in music performance from one of several colleges he is currently considering. He hopes to pursue a career as an orchestral musician. “Of course, none of this would be possible without District 7 and its strong string program,” he said.
Ezra credits his love of music to being raised with two wonderful gifts: “a CD player and a massive collection of music for it.” Through these, he was exposed to “an eclectic array of styles ranging from jangly folk to peppy Latin pop to classical, which became my favorite over time”. Both of his parents played some music in their formative years and his mother became an adept flautist and a member of the San Francisco Girls Chorus. “The ‘music gene’ in the family has also been passed down to my sister, Naomi, who is a percussionist with the Viking Band (and a talented one at that),” he said.
When he is not playing violin, he can often be spotted walking all over Spartanburg. “Walking is my main hobby outside of school, and it's informed many other aspects of my life for years now,” he said. “For one thing, walking as simple exercise has actually led me to cultivate a deep love for the environment. Spartanburg has an excellent selection of devoutly maintained nature preserves, and each one brings a unique environment to explore. As a result, I've become interested in biological studies, which I might pursue as a minor in college. Walking around the city has also led me to become a deeply inquisitive person. The more I travel, the more communities I want to visit. Every day, I find somewhere new to appreciate in this richly diverse city of ours.”
Appreciation for the world and people around him is clearly a theme in Ezra’s life. Reflecting on his career in District 7 and those who helped shape him into someone who is clearly wise beyond his years, Ezra shared, “All of the teachers in the District 7 orchestra program have been terrific cheerleaders and mentors from elementary school on, and their reverence for the arts as well as the 24/7 enthusiasm they bring to the job makes string study an absolute joy. I also look back fondly upon Mrs. Tepperman, my 10th grade English teacher who cared passionately for her students and nurtured discussion; Ms. Clinch, who made 11th grade American history an eye-opening, inspiring journey; Señora Mora, whose 4th period Spanish class was more than just a class, but a safe haven for friendships, culture, and many life lessons; and Mrs. Petty, whose Pre-Cal class helped me unlock skills I never knew I could use- and gave me many good laughs and memories.”
Ezra’s teachers are equally complimentary of him: “I’ve got so many impressive things to say about Ezra as a musician (truly, so many) but the best thing about Ezra is his humble spirit,” said orchestra teacher Helen Tipton. “He listens carefully, encourages other musicians, and wants the best for those around him. He includes everyone and accepts everyone.”
Drawing from a rich ancestral heritage blending German, Scots Irish, and Mexican, Ezra is Hispanic by way of his mother’s side of the family. “Our Mexican ancestors had ties to the areas of Nuevo Leon and San Luis Potosí. My mother's grandparents were the ones to immigrate to the United States (Trinidad, Colorado) to work as miners. My grandfather, their son, ended up starting a real estate business in San Francisco, where my mother was born,” he said.
“Through years of study (as well as encouragement from my grandpa), I have learned a lot of Spanish. It's a wonderful skill to have. The language is beautiful and widely spoken. Understanding Spanish opens doors to rich Hispanic musical, literary, and culinary traditions that our society has more in common with than one might think. In terms of familial traditions, we have seen several recipes passed down through the generations. We often make fideo or enchiladas for the holidays. Additionally, my family celebrates Día de Los Muertos cada año- a time to reflect on the stories of our ancestors and feel their presence anew on our journeys towards lives they would be proud of.”
We are proud of Ezra for leading the way for those who follow!