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Valedictorian Grace Chon is outstanding in many ways
Being named as Ephrata Area High School’s valedictorian June 3 came as a surprise to graduating senior Grace Chon. The Ephrata resident explained that for the past few years she had been ranked second in her class, so she hadn’t really given any thought to the fact that she could possibly be named as valedictorian.
Chon has also received honors as a musician. This school year, the cellist was named to the All-National Honors Ensemble that is sponsored by the National Association for Music Education. She will be attending Penn State’s Schreyer Honors College (at the main campus) in the fall and plans to double major in pre-med with biochemistry and molecular biology and performance art. Her goal is to become a pediatrician and to continue performing as a musician.
The class of 2014’s motto, a quote by Andre Gide, “We cannot discover new oceans until we have courage to lose sight of the shore,” inspired her address to fellow classmates.
“I’m sad to be leaving home for college in the fall, but excited at the same time, excited to have the challenges of college. I want to encourage my classmates to be open to new people and experiences,” she said. “It’s important to meet new people and welcome them into our lives. I’ve done that through my music. I’ve made so many good friends who share my passion for music.
Chon began playing the piano at age five and took up the cello in third grade.
“I really like the cello more. The piano is an instrument that you can play by itself or as part of an orchestra. But with a cello there’s much more opportunity to work with musicians that are as passionate about music as you are,” she said.
A member of Allegretto, the youth chamber orchestra comprised of highly talented high school musicians, she practices every day for at least an hour, and it could be as long as three or four hours.
“When you’re auditioning for an orchestra, the auditions are very competitive, and I want to be a strong player,” Chon said.
When asked about her favorite composer, she said that it changes. Currently it’s Antonín Dvorák because he writes strong pieces for cello. One of the pieces Allegretto performed recently was Dvorák’s Symphony No. 8.
“In general it’s a very melodic and rich piece, and it uses the whole range of the cello,” she explained.
She also plays with the Reading Youth Symphony.
For those who want a chance to see her perform, Chon will be one of three musicians performing at St. Peter’s Musical Arts Series at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 14 at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 10 Delp Road, Lancaster.
Chon is the daughter of Joyce and Dr. Il Jun Chon, an internist with Internal Medicine Specialists of Lancaster County. She has two younger sisters, who are also musicians.
Dr. Chon is a singer/musician who sings at churches and performs once a year at a fundraiser.
“I’m not a professional, I just love music. I taught my children to love music and let it enrich their lives. My wife also encouraged the children’s talents, a lot of what my kids are is due to my wife’s effort,” he said.
He also credits Ephrata School District’s commitment to music. Earlier this year, the district was named among the nation’s Best Communities for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation.
Dr. Chon, who emigrated from South Korea in 1986, is proud of the fact that Grace is not only a talented musician, but will also be entering the medical field.
“I want to be a doctor like my dad,” she said.
Grace explained that her desire to be a pediatrician has been fostered in the past year as she’s taught the cello to elementary students.
“I found that I really enjoy working with children and helping them,” she said.
Although music is her passion, she said that playing and practicing is a way to relieve stress.
“I think that a medical career and music will fit together. I recently learned about an orchestra in New York whose members are all physicians,” she said.