Courtesy Wendy Johnson

“When one does a thing, it appears good, otherwise one would not write it. Only later comes reflection, and one discards or accepts the thing. Time is the best censor, and patience a most excellent teacher.” — Frederic Chopin

One of the best things about my job is the ability to interact with people from throughout our community. I first met Zach Galaviz when he was an eighth-grader at Kuna Middle School. I was judging the school’s first oratory competition, and Zach was the clear winner that year. I was impressed with his performance, his articulation and his ability to bring his speech to life.

In 2014, I met Zach’s mom, Claudia, as she worked with other dedicated parents and community members on the supplemental levy election. I witnessed how much she cared about Zach’s education and about being a partner with us in the education of her son.

Last week I was lucky to be able to witness Zach’s senior project. Assessing senior projects is very rewarding for me because I have the opportunity to witness how each student’s experience in our school district results in them being ready for their next step after high school.

I am on a quest to continue to improve our school district in order to meet the needs of every child. Through our students’ senior projects, I am able to get first-hand feedback on what we need to do to improve our system and what we need to celebrate about our system. I want every student who graduates from our high schools to have the knowledge, skills and attributes necessary to achieve their post-high school goals.

Zach Galaviz is an example of what is great about our schools. I’ve asked Building Administrator Anna Lovelady to share Zach’s story with you.


Zach was my student his sophomore year. It was apparent from the start that Zach was brilliant, as he not only blazed through "Lord of the Flies," but proceeded to read biographies and additional literary works by William Golding. He's one of those kids that was more comfortable hanging with the adults. He continued to grace my room the following year, even though he wasn't enrolled in my class, just so we could talk about literature.

He mentioned something about moving to Chile, and sure enough, his senior year he did not return to KHS. He moved to Chile and finished his coursework online. This past year, his family returned to Kuna. Zach's sister is currently enrolled in our high school, and I frequently saw him on campus escorting his sister home for the day or helping Ryan Olsen conduct his orchestra classes.

That is where things get interesting. Zach's passion is music. Since childhood, Zach has been a part of the Boise Philharmonic Youth program. The Boise Philharmonic conductor — world renowned — was his mentor. Zach got it in his head over a year ago that if he wanted to be a world famous conductor, he would have to study at a prestigious institution, and he set his sights on the Vienna Conservatory.

In order to win a spot (they only choose TWO pupils per year), he had to present in three areas: violin performance, operatic singing and piano. He's been playing the violin since he was a kid, the singing wasn't an issue, but the piano ... he didn't know how to play.

His senior project covered his quest to train himself classically on the piano in less than six months and learn a piece, "Raindrops," by Chopin. During his senior project presentation, Zach shared a pie chart that illustrated how he practiced 16 hours a day, worked 4.5, ate 30 minutes, and slept between 3-4 hours per day in order to not only show proficiency but excellence in piano performance. He overlaid the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and how that philosophy helped him accomplish his goal into his senior project. He nailed it.

He played the Chopin piece for us during his presentation. Beautiful. Flawless.

Zach was chosen as the "2.5" student for the conservatory. He couldn't identify certain chords and keys quickly enough, so the staff asked him to study and retest that portion next spring. As long as he sails through that portion of the assessment, he will be enrolled in the Vienna Conservatory.

Out of 56 students — the only American — Zach finished third, and with his passion and work ethic, he's in. He'll essentially be working on his master's and doctorate at the same time in Vienna next year. I have no doubt that with his personality, talent, and know-how, he's going to be a beyond amazing conductor someday soon.


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