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SOTM: Shelby Lai

For the month of February, orchestra students have nominated a passionate, outstanding student who is frequently described as “hardworking.” With her diligence and leadership, she inspires positive energy within our orchestra community. Please congratulate our February Student of the Month, Shelby Lai, a senior cellist in Concert Orchestra!

Music creates lasting memories and connections. For Shelby, a trip to pick up her mom, a cellist, sparked her interest in the cello. At the age of seven, she accompanied her dad to her mom’s cello lesson, where Shelby placed the bow on the strings of her mom's cello—the first time of many to come. Later, because “[her] mom thought a tiny cello was cute,” Shelby started playing her own miniature cello, marking the start of her musical journey. Since she already played the cello, it was convenient for Shelby to join orchestra, a community that she has grown to love, especially her section. 

Another unforgettable moment for Shelby was her first performance in third grade, which was a nightmare. Her cello was completely loose and out of tune, a situation that would have thrown many musicians into a panic. What made matters worse was that Shelby did not know how to tune a cello at the time. Despite the odds against her, she bravely embraced the challenge and “played the entire piece out of tune like a champ.” After her slightly traumatizing experience, she comments that “everything after that has been 100 times less intense.”

Because of orchestra, her dedication, and her experiences (including dealing with “slippy pegs” and broken fine tuners on her middle school cello), Shelby is now an expert at tuning and takes pride in her skill. Now, when underclassmen come to her for help tuning their cellos, she is flattered. It demonstrates her growth as a cellist and fills her with a sense of pride and purpose knowing that others can count on her for guidance.

In addition to refining her technique, orchestra has also been a lesson in teamwork and friendship. Through daily practices and weekly sectionals, Shelby has learned invaluable lessons about communication and collaboration, the foundation of orchestra, as musicians must coordinate entrances and play cohesively. Reflecting on her years in orchestra, Shelby has formed many close bonds with other musicians, creating friendships that extend beyond the orchestra room. Furthermore, in the past 8 months, Shelby has grown to treasure the connections she has made within her cello section, for she passionately comments, “I love all the Concert Orchestra cellos!” 

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When I was 10 I was trapped in quicksand and Shelby came and pulled me out and saved my life I owe everything to her 🔥🔥🔥🫶🫶❤️❤️🫶🫶


ur so cool!!





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