Ryan Everson, 15

Musician, community activist

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Photo by Anthony Mair

His Story: As a Bob Miller Middle School sixth-grader, Ryan went from picking up the French horn for the first time to being selected to the school’s symphonic band in one year. In 2010 and 2011, he helped the band claim the overall sweepstakes award at the Heritage Festival in Anaheim, Calif., against other middle school and high school bands from the region. At the 2011 festival in May, out of about 1,000 musicians and choir singers, Ryan earned both an Outstanding Soloist trophy and the Spirit of Anaheim honor, given to one student who has excelled in music, academics and community involvement. At Coronado, Ryan is a straight-A student who plays in the marching and jazz bands.

School: Coronado High School, freshman

Extras: Ryan devotes several hours monthly to helping the less fortunate as a member of the Columbian Squires, a youth group connected to the Knights of Columbus. Now the Chief Squire at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Ryan is responsible for organizing various charitable efforts, including a coat and blanket drive that has brought in more than 2,000 items since 2006, and a food drive that distributes hundreds of pounds of nonperishables annually. Ryan is also spearheading a fundraising project to help tornado victims in Joplin, Mo. He saw the devastation firsthand while going through Joplin on a family road trip in July and immediately began coming up with ideas, punching them into his iPod Touch.

What he’ll be doing in 10 years: “I hope to be a professional musician. Should that not work out, I plan to have an occupation that relies heavily on science and math, such as an architect, while also playing music part time somewhere.”

What they’re saying about him: “Ryan possesses a rare level of work ethic and discipline which is required of professional musicians, but more importantly, he thoroughly enjoys every challenge—no matter how great,” says Jeffrey Williams, band director at Bob Miller Middle School. “I often tell him that I’ll be in the front row for his first concert with the Chicago Symphony. For a while I think he thought I was kidding, but I fully expect it to happen, and I look forward to it!”

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