Custom Class: post-landing-hero

While this class has faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic that hit during their senior year, we know that their heightened resilience from this experience—alongside their dedication to academics, passion projects, and volunteerism—will serve them all their lives.

Rowland Hall’s class of 2020 is made up of 78 passionate, driven young adults. During their time at our school, they have grown in confidence and competence, both inside and outside our classrooms, and their many achievements embody our vision of inspiring students who make a difference. While this class has faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic that hit during their senior year, we know that their heightened resilience from this experience—alongside their dedication to academics, passion projects, and volunteerism—will serve them all their lives.

Members of the class of 2020 embraced opportunities to connect their coursework with the larger world. Many explored potential careers through internships at organizations like The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, HawkWatch International, McNeill Von Maack, Red Butte Garden, the office of Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, Intermountain Nurse Midwives, and Alliance for a Better Utah. Some used classroom experiences as inspiration for writing op-eds on subjects from overlooked sports figures to gun safety, while others combined in-class topics with critical thinking and communication skills at the lectern—the class of 2020 includes several top-tier debate students, including four state champions, five national qualifiers, six Academic All-Americans, and three qualifiers to the Tournament of Champions, two of whom finished in the top 15 this year.

Winged Lion seniors led our athletics program to top-five finishes in the Deseret News’ 2A All-Sports Awards each year of their Upper School careers. They captured 26 Region and seven State titles as teams. Eleven of our seniors were named All-State, with one named State 2A MVP in her sport; 10 earned All-Region honors; and four were selected to play in postseason All-Star games. Sixteen Academic All-State and 13 Academic All-Region honorees led their teams to top-three recognition for their sports in the Top 2A Team GPA award over the past four years. Of the five seniors in Rowmark Ski Academy, four competed in the US Junior National Championships in February and all qualified for the FIS Western Region Junior Championships. Their ski-racing successes this past season include 25 total FIS top-10 finishes and seven podiums in a season where the final month of competition, including year-end championship races, was cancelled. Without a doubt, this list of Rowmark and Winged Lion athletics accomplishments would have been longer had the season not ended prematurely.

Our students dedicated their time to various passion projects, from designing robots and rockets, to creating a computer program to defeat partisan gerrymandering in Utah, to applying for a 501(c)(3) to create an alpine ski racing nonprofit for under-resourced girls.

Our students dedicated their time to various passion projects, from designing robots and rockets, to creating a computer program to defeat partisan gerrymandering in Utah, to applying for a 501(c)(3) to create an alpine ski racing nonprofit for under-resourced girls. Others were active on the Rowland Hall campus, volunteering as tutors, heading sustainability initiatives, starting affinity groups for Black and Asian students, acting as ambassadors for admission or college counseling, and serving on the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.

Many artists make up this year’s graduating class: painters, graphic designers, illustrators, filmmakers, writers, a jewelry designer, and dancers whose studies vary from ballet and contemporary to Cretan, classical Indian, and Tibetan styles. This class’ talented musicians include competitive pianists, violinists, and a bassist—one pianist’s superior scores earned her the privilege of playing in the Utah Federation of Music Clubs’ honors recital and the Utah Music Teachers Association recital. One young author penned an essay on political civility that was published in The Salt Lake Tribune after winning the top prize in Westminster College's annual Honors College Statewide Essay Contest. A budding thespian helped write an original musical as a member of the University of Utah’s Youth Conservatory.

The class of 2020’s commitment to volunteerism cannot be overstated. Our students have made a difference for dozens of organizations.

The class of 2020’s commitment to volunteerism cannot be overstated. Our students have made a difference for dozens of organizations like the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, Preservation Utah, LDS Hospital, Summit Land Conservancy, the Muslim Community Center of Utah, Friends of Alta, the Navajo Nation, and the Salt Lake City Sanctuary Network. They spent summers serving communities in China, Fiji, Thailand, and Vietnam. One student started a local chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, while another raised thousands of dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This year, a Rowland Hall senior was awarded Utah Youth Volunteer of the Year in recognition of his years of commitment to Jewish Family Service.

Many of our seniors also held jobs while in school, including working as bussers, hosts, baristas, spin and dance instructors, a certified nursing assistant, and a mountain adventure guide. One student plays in a jazz band for local events, while another ran electrochemistry lab experiments for graduate students.

The future is bright for the 78 seniors in this graduating class. Our graduates earned admission to 128 different colleges and universities, and 78% of them received at least one merit scholarship to attend college. A few have chosen to take a gap year to work or pursue personal interests. Whatever their next steps, we know these experiences will serve as stepping stones on their journeys to living lives of purpose and impact.

Congratulations, class of 2020! You have accomplished so much already, and we know you’re just getting started.


Top image: The class of 2020—view the full collage.

Students

Achievements of the Class of 2020

While this class has faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic that hit during their senior year, we know that their heightened resilience from this experience—alongside their dedication to academics, passion projects, and volunteerism—will serve them all their lives.

Rowland Hall’s class of 2020 is made up of 78 passionate, driven young adults. During their time at our school, they have grown in confidence and competence, both inside and outside our classrooms, and their many achievements embody our vision of inspiring students who make a difference. While this class has faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic that hit during their senior year, we know that their heightened resilience from this experience—alongside their dedication to academics, passion projects, and volunteerism—will serve them all their lives.

Members of the class of 2020 embraced opportunities to connect their coursework with the larger world. Many explored potential careers through internships at organizations like The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, HawkWatch International, McNeill Von Maack, Red Butte Garden, the office of Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, Intermountain Nurse Midwives, and Alliance for a Better Utah. Some used classroom experiences as inspiration for writing op-eds on subjects from overlooked sports figures to gun safety, while others combined in-class topics with critical thinking and communication skills at the lectern—the class of 2020 includes several top-tier debate students, including four state champions, five national qualifiers, six Academic All-Americans, and three qualifiers to the Tournament of Champions, two of whom finished in the top 15 this year.

Winged Lion seniors led our athletics program to top-five finishes in the Deseret News’ 2A All-Sports Awards each year of their Upper School careers. They captured 26 Region and seven State titles as teams. Eleven of our seniors were named All-State, with one named State 2A MVP in her sport; 10 earned All-Region honors; and four were selected to play in postseason All-Star games. Sixteen Academic All-State and 13 Academic All-Region honorees led their teams to top-three recognition for their sports in the Top 2A Team GPA award over the past four years. Of the five seniors in Rowmark Ski Academy, four competed in the US Junior National Championships in February and all qualified for the FIS Western Region Junior Championships. Their ski-racing successes this past season include 25 total FIS top-10 finishes and seven podiums in a season where the final month of competition, including year-end championship races, was cancelled. Without a doubt, this list of Rowmark and Winged Lion athletics accomplishments would have been longer had the season not ended prematurely.

Our students dedicated their time to various passion projects, from designing robots and rockets, to creating a computer program to defeat partisan gerrymandering in Utah, to applying for a 501(c)(3) to create an alpine ski racing nonprofit for under-resourced girls.

Our students dedicated their time to various passion projects, from designing robots and rockets, to creating a computer program to defeat partisan gerrymandering in Utah, to applying for a 501(c)(3) to create an alpine ski racing nonprofit for under-resourced girls. Others were active on the Rowland Hall campus, volunteering as tutors, heading sustainability initiatives, starting affinity groups for Black and Asian students, acting as ambassadors for admission or college counseling, and serving on the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.

Many artists make up this year’s graduating class: painters, graphic designers, illustrators, filmmakers, writers, a jewelry designer, and dancers whose studies vary from ballet and contemporary to Cretan, classical Indian, and Tibetan styles. This class’ talented musicians include competitive pianists, violinists, and a bassist—one pianist’s superior scores earned her the privilege of playing in the Utah Federation of Music Clubs’ honors recital and the Utah Music Teachers Association recital. One young author penned an essay on political civility that was published in The Salt Lake Tribune after winning the top prize in Westminster College's annual Honors College Statewide Essay Contest. A budding thespian helped write an original musical as a member of the University of Utah’s Youth Conservatory.

The class of 2020’s commitment to volunteerism cannot be overstated. Our students have made a difference for dozens of organizations.

The class of 2020’s commitment to volunteerism cannot be overstated. Our students have made a difference for dozens of organizations like the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, Preservation Utah, LDS Hospital, Summit Land Conservancy, the Muslim Community Center of Utah, Friends of Alta, the Navajo Nation, and the Salt Lake City Sanctuary Network. They spent summers serving communities in China, Fiji, Thailand, and Vietnam. One student started a local chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, while another raised thousands of dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This year, a Rowland Hall senior was awarded Utah Youth Volunteer of the Year in recognition of his years of commitment to Jewish Family Service.

Many of our seniors also held jobs while in school, including working as bussers, hosts, baristas, spin and dance instructors, a certified nursing assistant, and a mountain adventure guide. One student plays in a jazz band for local events, while another ran electrochemistry lab experiments for graduate students.

The future is bright for the 78 seniors in this graduating class. Our graduates earned admission to 128 different colleges and universities, and 78% of them received at least one merit scholarship to attend college. A few have chosen to take a gap year to work or pursue personal interests. Whatever their next steps, we know these experiences will serve as stepping stones on their journeys to living lives of purpose and impact.

Congratulations, class of 2020! You have accomplished so much already, and we know you’re just getting started.


Top image: The class of 2020—view the full collage.

Students

Explore Our Most Recent Stories

Rowland Hall kindergartners around the story fire during outdoor classroom.

On a mild January morning, a Rowland Hall kindergarten class gathered around an imaginary fire. Surrounding them were the sounds of birds chirping, and the open fields and majestic trees of Sunnyside Park, a public greenspace located across the street from the McCarthey Campus. Behind their masks were the unmistakable signs of smiles as they called out the reading powers they’d been practicing.

“Stretching-out power!”

“Pointer power!”

“Beginning sound power!”

After listing all of their superpowers, the students picked up books, as well as pieces of carpet to help keep them dry, and excitedly walked to their favorite park trees. They settled down at the base of the trunks and began to read out loud. From across the field came the sound of little voices sounding out words. At each tree, a child sat focused, tracing a finger across a page to track their place and, occasionally, pausing to share an illustration with the tree.

The research is clear: spending time learning outdoors results in stickier learning, better emotional regulation, connection to and appreciation for nature, better collaboration skills amongst students—even improved appetite and eye development in young children.—Emma Wellman, Beginning School principal

Reading to the trees has become a beloved component of outdoor classroom, the newest addition to this year’s kindergarten curriculum. “There’s something magical about it,” said kindergarten lead teacher Melanie Robbins, who—with her background teaching outdoor classroom at the International School of Zug and Luzern in Switzerland, and studying nature education in Finland—has played a big role in introducing the learning method to Rowland Hall.

Put simply, outdoor classroom is the practice of taking school lessons outside to enhance learning. It’s a good fit for Rowland Hall’s Beginning School, where a focus on indoor-outdoor education and its benefits has always been a priority (design features of the Beginning School building even include access to common courtyards from all classrooms and a dedicated division nature yard).

“The research is clear: spending time learning outdoors results in stickier learning, better emotional regulation, connection to and appreciation for nature, better collaboration skills amongst students—even improved appetite and eye development in young children,” said Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman. Melanie agreed, noting that her early interest in outdoor classroom was sparked after seeing firsthand the benefits of learning outside, including the realization of how much more captivated students seemed to be in nature. 

“I noticed that the children were even more engaged than they were when we were inside, and I wanted to know more about this,” she said.

A kindergartner reading to a tree during outdoor classroom.

Reading to the trees has quickly become a favorite part of outdoor classroom at Rowland Hall.

And though an emphasis on outdoor classroom was already playing a role in plans for the 2020–2021 school year, the pandemic helped turn it into a priority (or, as the teachers view it, a COVID silver lining) since learning outdoors is safer for teachers and students. Many Beginning School teachers now choose to utilize Sunnyside Park for lessons each week—appointments that have become so cherished, teachers say, that students are “devastated” when a scheduling conflict or severe weather derails plans.

“I think there’s this freedom in the outdoors that they’re connected to,” Melanie explained.

In fact, the instructors say that despite the park’s many distractions, students are greatly connected to outdoor activities, and their focus and overall stamina for learning have improved outdoors. The story fire ritual that opens each session, for instance, is helping to sharpen their listening and imagining skills, while reading to trees is helping to build confidence and endurance (“We can read a lot longer outside than we do inside,” said Melanie). These benefits aren’t limited to certain subjects, either. Teachers can take almost any unit of study to the park (and some have been known to wheel two wagons’ worth of supplies over to do just that). As a result, students are trying all sorts of activities, from practicing measurements and studying patterns, to creating art and making science drawings.

“We want to get kids learning from the world around them, making real-world connections with science, and bringing math, language, and literacy into an outdoor space,” said lead kindergarten teacher Kelley Journey, who previously taught at a nature-based school in Massachusetts.

I used to think it was fun to take kids outdoors. But now I know that it is a uniquely powerful setting to help develop curious, happy, focused learners.—Melanie Robbins, kindergarten lead teacher

Outdoor classroom is also proving to be a way to build on already-successful units. 4PreK lead teacher Kait Abraham, who’s attended outdoor classroom seminars, brought it into her classroom this year and said it’s been a valuable addition to units like the evergreen study, which had previously only been conducted on campus. By including Sunnyside Park in this year’s study, Kait said, students could view more types of evergreen trees as well as access fallen branches, sticks, and pine cones to use in counting and sorting exercises.

“It was really cool to see how kids take what we usually study indoors into the outdoors and study it even deeper,” she reflected.

And that indoor-outdoor link is happening across the division, with teachers seeing children asking more complex questions and realizing that learning happens in all kinds of places. For Melanie, their joyful engagement, and the fun they’re having because of it, is a reminder of the initial spark that drove her to study outdoor classroom.

"I used to think it was fun to take kids outdoors,” she said. “But now I know that it is a uniquely powerful setting to help develop curious, happy, focused learners."

Academics

Lisa Brown Miranda greets Lincoln Street Campus students on the first day of school in August.

Enrolling in a new school can be scary. Enrolling in a new school during a pandemic can kick those nerves up a notch. For new Rowland Hall sixth grader Sofia Drakou, one smiling staffer not only assuaged her fears, but left her feeling like she was flying—a familiar sensation for this young ballerina.

Before an August Zoom meeting with Rowland Hall Associate Director of Admission Lisa Brown Miranda, Sofia didn’t know what to expect from her new school. But as the two discussed everything from classes to teachers to balancing extracurriculars (Sofia has an increasingly demanding schedule with Ballet West Academy), Lisa put the rising sixth grader at ease: “As soon as she started talking to me, she won my heart with her enthusiasm and genuine interest in my feelings, expectations, and worries,” Sofia said of Lisa. 

“Lisa encouraged me and showed me that in her, I had found a reliable, empathetic, and kind person, and a valuable advisor to reach out if I needed to. This was, and still is, very important to me, and I will always be thankful for her presence in my life,” Sofia explained. “After our meeting, I felt like I was flying, and I couldn’t wait to come to Rowland Hall because she made me feel like I was welcomed before I even started school!”

I wanted to make sure that the books included inspiring people of color who mirror Ms. Miranda’s empowering personality and the diversity of our amazing school community.—Sixth grader Sofia Drakou

That pivotal meeting left Sofia eager to reciprocate Lisa’s kindness. To express her gratitude, the sixth grader and her brother—eleventh grader George—picked, purchased, and donated 10 children’s books related to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) to the McCarthey Campus library in honor of Lisa, who is Black and has been a champion of JEDI values at the school since her 2014 hiring. Indeed, Lisa is a dedicated member of the faculty/staff JEDI Committee and she and daughter Gabriella, a freshman, participated as panelists during that committee’s November 17 Amplifying Black Voices virtual evening of dialogue. Lisa also currently serves on the search committee for the school’s newly endowed director of equity and inclusion position. Beyond her JEDI-related services to the school, Lisa is simply a warm, caring ambassador for Rowland Hall. As she jets around the Lincoln Street Campus, she’s often seen greeting people by name and building them up in passing encounters, offering her colleagues effusive thanks for collaborating on past projects or, for students, asking how a test or weekend athletics competition went and praising their evolving talents and efforts.

Siblings George and Sofia hold up four books that they donated in Lisa Brown Miranda's honor.

Sibling students George and Sofia with four of the books they donated in Lisa Brown Miranda's honor.

“I wanted to make sure that the books included inspiring people of color who mirror Ms. Miranda’s empowering personality and the diversity of our amazing school community,” Sofia explained, “so young students at Rowland Hall can read about people and characters they can connect with, and be inspired by them.” The sixth grader hopes the books—which she and her brother donated on February 9—raise awareness of JEDI values at Rowland Hall, and help the school and its young students celebrate Black History Month.

My heart is bursting. Your gift will allow so many of our youngest learners to see themselves joyfully represented and will elicit pride in themselves and their families.—Associate Director of Admission Lisa Brown Miranda

Lisa said the donation left her overcome with joy. “I am proud of you always, always, but today my heart is bursting,” Lisa wrote to Sofia and George. “Your gift will allow so many of our youngest learners to see themselves joyfully represented and will elicit pride in themselves and their families. Other students will have the opportunity to learn about what makes their classmates special and beautiful in their own way. What a glorious gift!”  

As for Rowland Hall newbie Sofia, she’s off to a fantastic start and is even following in Lisa’s footsteps: she'll join six of her Middle School classmates to serve on Rowland Hall’s delegation at the Northwest Association of Independent Schools virtual Student Diversity Leadership Retreat March 1–2.

Rowland Hall thanks Sofia, George, and their parents for these wonderful additions to the McCarthey Campus library: 

  • Equality's Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America, by author Deborah Diesen and illustrator Magdalena Mora
  • Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, by author Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal
  • Last Stop on Market Street, by author Matt de la Peña and illustrator Christian Robinson
  • My Little Golden Book About Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by author Shana Corey and illustrator Margeaux Lucas
  • The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read, by author Rita Lorraine Hubbard and illustrator Oge Mora
  • The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne, by author Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrator John Parra
  • Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World, by author Susan Hood and illustrators Sophie Blackall, Emily Winfield Martin, Shadra Strickland, Melissa Sweet, LeUyen Pham, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Lisa Brown, Selina Alko, Hadley Hooper, Isabel Roxas, Erin Robinson, and Sara Palacios
  • Sometimes People March, by author and illustrator Tessa Allen
  • Thank You, Omu, by author and illustrator Oge Mora
  • We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, by author Traci Sorell and illustrator Frane Lessac

Community

Students and teachers gather on Zoom to hear from Pulitzer-Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez.

“An editorial cartoon isn’t just a funny picture,” Pulitzer-Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez told Rowland Hall eighth graders at a special virtual presentation on January 25. “A good editorial cartoon is a fine instrument of journalism: It defines an issue. It challenges hypocrisy. It reveals the best and the worst of humanity. It calls the reader to arms against the complacent, the lethargic, the evil-doers, the indolent body politic, the champions of the status quo, the sordid predators of society.”

Editorial, or political, cartooning isn’t often a subject that middle school students examine closely. So when Rowland Hall had the chance to invite Michael—uncle of eighth grader Elli Ramirez and senior Ke’ea Ramirez—to speak to eighth graders, teacher Sarah Yoon jumped at the chance. She knew that the discussion on editorial cartooning, free speech, journalism, and citizen responsibility would tie to current studies as well as give students a unique opportunity to interact with an esteemed artist: in addition to two Pulitzer Prizes (1994 and 2008), Michael’s awards include a 2015 Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year (the highest honor the profession bestows) and three Sigma Delta Chi awards for excellence in professional journalism (1995, 1997, and 2007). 

Michael urged students to seek out balanced information on complex issues, noting that this practice will provide them with a more comprehensive view of those issues, help them better understand and solidify their own beliefs, and prepare them to have constructive conversations.

At the January 25 event, Michael talked about how he views his role to help protect and inform the public, and gave students the chance to ask questions about his work, his career path, and even his love of surfing. He also used the time to inspire students to become active citizens and, one day, voters. The job of members of a democratic republic, he told them, is to be informed.

“Information is a necessary component to guide you in a political system based on self-governance and individual liberties,” Michael explained. He urged students to seek out balanced information on complex issues, noting that this practice will provide them with a more comprehensive view of those issues, help them better understand and solidify their own beliefs, and prepare them to have constructive conversations.

“You cannot make a substantive opinion on anything if you don’t know the depth of what you’re talking about,” he explained. “You can’t build a car if you don’t know the mechanics of an automobile; in the same way, you cannot construct an argument unless you know the mechanics of the debate.”

Michael’s presentation encouraged students—some noted that it aided them in understanding the power of their voices, while others reflected on how learning about Michael’s career helped them realize that they can express themselves in creative ways. They tapped into this inspiration as they embarked on their post-event assignment: to create their own editorial cartoons. In the weeks following the presentation, they became junior editorial cartoonists, researching, editing, and drawing (by hand or computer) their opinions on topics such as the January 6 attack on the US Capitol and the impact of COVID-19. For Monica Fernandez, the assignment gave her a chance to share her views on a subject she cares deeply about: climate change.

An editorial cartoon created by Monica Fernandez.

Eighth grader Monica Fernandez's editorial cartoon on climate change.

“I decided on the subject of my cartoon because I think climate change is a very important and real thing in our lives, and we should all try and become more aware of it so we can make smarter decisions in our day-to-day lives,” she explained. Like Michael and his fellow editorial cartoonists do, Monica took time to research her topic and consider the best approach to make her viewers think.

Monica's perspective is a reflection of what she and fellow students took away from Michael’s presentation—that good editorial cartoons inform and challenge readers as well as draw them into debate and action, and that engaged citizens have a say in the destiny of their country.

“I decided to include an hourglass, because I think this was a good way to visually show how fast time is running out,” she reflected. “My original plan was to show different natural elements (animals, trees, glaciers, people, oceans), but after creating a rough draft I realized that it looked sloppy and didn’t get my point across. I decided to just use the visual of the globe, and I was more happy with that design. My end result was three hourglasses—as the time goes by, each hourglass has more sand at the bottom and less world left.”

Monica hopes that, in addition to making viewers think, this image may also inspire them to change behaviors. “Even the little things in life that we do on a day-to-day basis can affect how much longer we can all make this world last before it all runs out,” she explained.

Her perspective is a reflection of what she and fellow students took away from Michael’s presentation—that good editorial cartoons inform and challenge readers as well as draw them into debate and action, and that engaged citizens have a say in the destiny of their country. The powerful images the students created prove that it’s never too early to help them think about their role as American citizens and sharpen the skills that will support them in that role. After all, as Michael pointed out, “Developing future citizens and participants in our democratic republic is so important.”

An editorial cartoon created by Annie Lutton.

An editorial cartoon created by eighth grader Annie Lutton.

Experiential Learning

Cedi Hinton playing trumpet in Rowland Hall’s jazz and pop band.

In early December, Rowland Hall junior Cedi Hinton received an exciting notification in her email inbox: she had been named first trumpet in the Utah All-State Band.

“I was really shocked,” she said.

Shocked, because 2020 was the third year that Cedi had auditioned for the All-State Band, a group made up of top high school musicians from across Utah. After not making the cut in 2018 and 2019, Cedi said, she almost didn’t audition again.

“I auditioned the past two years,” she explained, “and I was always planning to audition, but I just got really busy with school and said, ‘I’m not going to stress myself out more with having to record another thing.’”

So she let the deadline pass her by.

Not long after, however, she learned that the Utah Music Educators Association (UMEA), which manages the All-State Band as well as other all-state groups, had extended the deadline. This convinced her to rethink her plan.

Cedi's recording not only secured her a place in the band, but also earned her the honor of trumpet first chair—an endorsement of both her musical skill and leadership abilities.

“So I submitted a recording,” she said.

That recording, which Cedi submitted on her 17th birthday, not only secured her a place in the band, but also earned her the honor of trumpet first chair—an endorsement of both her musical skill and leadership abilities (first chairs are recognized as the best in their instrument groups and often act as section leaders). Dr. Bret Jackson, Rowland Hall’s jazz and pop band director, wasn’t surprised when he learned of this impressive accolade.

“Those who have heard Cedi performing with the Rowland Hall jazz band know what a brilliant trumpeter she is,” said Bret, who noted that the last year one of his Rowland Hall students made All-State Band was 2014. “This honor says a lot about how hard she's worked to become a well-rounded trumpeter that is comfortable performing in a variety of musical genres and mediums.”

Cedi’s journey to well-rounded trumpeter began in elementary school, when she decided to take on a new instrument after playing the piano for several years. She decided to try the trumpet, she said, because “I thought it looked kind of cool.” And though she has also enjoyed checking out other instruments over the years—such as the bass, drums, and guitar—the trumpet is the instrument that’s stuck. By sixth grade, Cedi was taking private lessons with instructor Seretta Hart, whom she still works with today. She’s also embraced opportunities to hone her skills in music groups at Rowland Hall and through Salt Lake’s Wasatch Music Coaching Academy.

Cedi Hinton with her trumpet.

In the Utah All-State Band, Cedi’s talent was further developed by professional musicians: the group, which gathered virtually in January 2021, was instructed by Loras Schissel, music director and conductor of the Virginia Grand Military Band and the Cleveland Orchestra Blossom Festival Band, and mentored by members of the Utah Symphony in an online masterclass. While Cedi acknowledged that the virtual format made some aspects of the All-State Band experience tricky, she still recognizes and appreciates the benefits of it. In particular, she said, she enjoyed how the band’s performance of John Barnes Chance’s “Incantation and Dance” pulled her out of her comfort zone—as someone who loves and prefers to play jazz music, she said, studying this song helped her better appreciate classical music.

“I really enjoyed the song and expanding what I love to play,” Cedi said, “so maybe I’ll work on more songs like this and enjoy classical music more—and that’s kind of exciting.”

Cedi plans to try out for All-State Band one more time this fall, when she’s a senior. She admitted that, even though she’s made the band once already, the thought of auditioning for it one last time still makes her nervous.

I definitely want to keep playing, and meet people who also play, and join bands and groups.—Cedi Hinton

“That really intimidates me, but I kind of have to now—and I really want to,” she said.

It’s clear that Cedi is using this experience—including the lessons she learned before making All-State Band—to help guide her journey as a musician. It serves a reminder of her talent, as well as her resilience when things haven’t quite gone as planned. It’s also shown her that, whatever opportunities come her way, she’s driven by a passion for playing and the magic of collaboration.

“I definitely want to keep playing, and meet people who also play, and join bands and groups,” she said with a smile.

Congratulations, Cedi! We are so proud of you.


Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s All-State Band concert will be presented online. We will share the video with the Rowland Hall community once it is released.

Music

You Belong at Rowland Hall