For the second time in two years, a TJ graduate was a awarded a prestigious Davidson Fellowship (see November 2013 issue). Each year the Davidson Foundation selects twenty teenagers with demonstrated potential to contribute to the fields of science, technology, engineering, math, literature, philosophy, or music. Joe Broom, TJ ’15, currently a music performance major at the University of Michigan, was recognized not only for his unparalleled musical talents but also for his creative service work.
A 2015 Presidential Scholar in the Arts, Joe has performed as soloist with both the United States Marine Band and the United States Air Force Band. He has also been a featured soloist on the National Public Radio program, “From the Top” and has performed at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. In 2012, Joe became a National Symphony Orchestra Youth Fellow, the only euphonium player in the Fellowship’s 35-year history. In 2013, he became the first ever two-time consecutive winner of the International Euphonium Institute Festival, winning the student division in 2012 and the artist’s division the following year (hear him play here).
While a junior at TJ, Joe founded Chamber Unique (ChU)™, a network of young musicians dedicated to using their skills to improve the lives of others. Unlike a standard chamber group, ChU uses varying instrumentation and incorporates a wide variety of guest artists as a means of harnessing the power of performing arts for education and service. Joe created two projects for ChU during his junior and senior years: A performance series for an arts and wellness program in DC serving senior adults with neurological conditions; and a six-session Saturday workshop at Kent Gardens ES, “Full STEAM Ahead: Adding the Arts to STEM” (pictured above). Other current and former TJ students active in ChU include cellist Didi Chang-Park, TJ ’15 (at right, with Joe at Kent Gardens ES), double bassist Zola Bridges, TJ ’13, and bass trombonist Aaron Geldert, TJ ’16.
The STEAM workshop, which illustrates the interplay between music, science and math by teaching about, for example, the math of rhythm and the physics of sound, received a One Question grant (funded by the Partnership Fund) for the 2013-2014 school year. Aaron, now serving as the group’s local director, is running the STEAM workshop at Kent Gardens this fall. Not only is ChU continuing its DC-area outreach work, but Joe is also collaborating with the director of a community organization known as Crescendo Detroit, which promotes artistic excellence and academic achievement in urban youth, to bring his STEAM workshop to Detroit next semester.
One can only wonder at the hours of hard work and sophisticated time management skills that made possible Joe’s accomplishments, but one thing is clear — he enjoyed the TJ challenge. “I am grateful for an incredible high school education where I was surrounded by profoundly gifted and dedicated peers who served as inspiration to reach my goals,” he said. “TJ has a well-deserved reputation for academic rigor, but is also an environment that supports the ability and commitment of its unique students. Parent volunteers and the TJ Partnership Fund provide resources unlike any high school in the country. Teachers and administrators trust, encourage, and enable us to exceed their expectations and often even our own.”
Junior Christopher Cao was selected to represent Virginia as part of the National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador Program, which gives students a $1,000 grant and brings them to Washington, DC, for training and a visit to Capitol Hill in preparation for their “ambassadorship” during April’s Global Youth Service Day. The program is designed to create a “powerful national network of young people who raise their collective voice in service to other youth.”
In his freshman year while volunteering for GIVE, a non-profit founded by TJ students that organizes tutoring sessions for disadvantaged youth, Christopher met a student who did not have access to a computer at home. This was all the inspiration he needed to found Project Reboot, a non-profit that refreshes donated computers and provides them to those without. Working with Christopher on Project Reboot’s leadership team are fellow TJ juniors Griffith Heller, Arun Bhattasali, and Peter Zhao.
Through the organization’s local program, “Reboot for Youth,” the group collects donated computers, erases the hard drives and installs Windows and Microsoft Office, repairing systems when necessary, and then donates the refurbished computers — 139 of them to date — to low-income families.
Through its global program, the team has shipped computers to students living in poor areas in several countries, including Kenya, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In combination with Keepods, USB sticks that hold the computer’s operating system and make using a computer as simple as using a smartphone, the group is able to give each student access to his or her own computer, something that previously was prohibitively expensive. Christopher hopes to use his $1,000 grant to expand that program to Liberia.”I also look forward to accelerating both Reboot for Youth and PC(re)Builders, the 8th period club our team founded to teach more TJ students how to repair computers,” Christopher said.