After spending most of their Baldwin High School careers with their heads in their books, while maintaining a heavy involvement in music programs, both the Valedictorian and the Class President of Baldwin High School made history as the first Baldwin students in their class rankings to graduate with the plan of pursuing music in college.
The idea of majoring in music is exciting for both of them, however, they have mixed emotions about their ability to handle the changes that college will bring.
“In college, there’s no one to force you to do your school work because college students have to choose to do their work on their own and a lot of people aren’t prepared,” says Luke Waldron, the class president. “I think high school prepared me for college to some degree, but there’s so much that I’m not prepared for, such as the workload and budgeting time.”
Throughout high school, as a member of the Jazz band, Jazz Proclivity group, and as a frequent participant in gigs, Waldron, had difficulty finding a balance between academics and music because pursuing music took up a lot of his time and he struggled find enough time to do his school work.
“Getting my GPA to where it is was difficult, but maintaining it was even harder because I was so invested in music,” says Waldron, who graduated with a 98 grade point average. “I had a limited amount of time to study and complete assignments because my music practices and gigs ran late.”
Despite the obstacles that he faced in high school and his current worries about facing the next chapter of his life at college, Waldron is excited to attend Berklee College of Music in the fall, as a jazz performance major, with a hope of eventually pursuing a full time career playing the saxophone around the world. He also looks forward to college because it will give him the opportunity to experience a new environment and meet new people, while developing maturity and self sufficiency. He will rely on support from his family and friends, who share his love for music, because they helped encourage him to persevere during his time in high school.
“My mom is my biggest supporter because during high school she would stay up late with me after my performances to help me finish all the school work that I needed to do,” says Waldron. “Whenever I felt stressed with academics, my friends were there for me too because they played instruments with me, which gave me the ability to emulate how I feel through music, which is a great stress reliever.”
One of the people that positively impacted Waldron is the Valedictorian, Sierra Wojtczack because she helped him not to feel isolated in his plans to pursue music. “I’m not very close to the valedictorian, but since we are both taking the music major route, it’s cool to know I’m not alone,” says Waldron.
The feeling is mutual because Wojtczack also views the time she met Waldron as a positive encounter because of their similar interests in pursuing music in college. “When I met the class president, it was enjoyable bonding over our interests in music, even though we are pursuing very different careers, since I consider myself a classical composer and he is a jazz performer.”
In the fall, Wojtczack will attend SUNY Fredonia to study music composition and minor in Spanish, with a hope of becoming an active composer, conductor and an advocate for music written by composers of diverse backgrounds, including women and people of color. She looks forward to the prospect of interpreting and embodying the music of past, present, and future masters.
Although, Wojtczack will miss her mother’s home cooking and the ability to easily see her Baldwin friends while she is at college, she is not nervous for college academics because she is looking forward to being challenged by the honors program and composition curriculum at Fredonia. In high school, she often found it difficult to find time for academics, while pursuing music as a conductor and member of the orchestra and vocal and choral ensembles, however, she managed to organize her time in a way that helped her not to neglect her music interests, while she maintained a 119 GPA. “I had to carefully plan when I would be able to do my school work, whether it was practicing cello during my lunch period or doing homework between rehearsals,” said Wojtczack.
She is excited to be surrounded by other musicians in college that share the same level of passion and devotion for music as she does and she hopes to be inspired by a vibrant community of composers.
“I am most looking forward to devoting the vast majority of my schedule to music because nothing brings me more joy than the dualistic, collaborative and individualistic nature of music,” said Wojtczack. “The possibilities are endless as a musician and there is no other craft I would rather devote myself to.”