Thursday, April 5, 2007
Byers junior plays on new CD
By SUE WATSON
She’s a long way from home and has been living in the United States only three years, but Sandy Gonzalez is getting attention as an outstanding student at H.W. Byers School for both academic performance and as a musician.
From Mexico City, and now living in the Byhalia area with her parents, Gonzalez has her teachers’ eyes rolling. She’s one of the most advanced Hispanics among Byers school’s 30 Hispanic students in English, according to her English/Spanish instructor Charles Finch.
Only six months ago Gonzalez was invited to join El Forastero (The Stranger), a two-year-old band that plays at parties, weddings, churches and other events in the region. That adds lots of weekend travel to her agenda as well as pressure to practice, but playing in the band is not interfering with her progress at school, she said. She studies while travelling.
The Stranger played in New Orleans two weeks ago.
Gonzalez plays percussion (drums) but is also learning piano on her own.
The third album and one on which Gonzalez performs with several other youngsters as well as adults, is entitled “Ya Lo Supe” (I know it). There are 12 traditional Hispanic songs, including the title song.
Gonzalez said the band plays music for all ages with familiar themes being relationships and perception of the other in a relationship.
“I was in another group and was asked to audition for this one,” she said.
Part of being in a band is travelling every weekend. The group expects to perform soon in Chicago. Gonzalez said her brother, Daniel, sometimes travels with her. He is also a junior at H.W. Byers.
The youngest band member is 15, also a female, and the others are in their 20s, 30s or 40s and are male.
Gonzalez said she learned some English in Mexico. She has already passed three subject area tests Mississippi requires for high school graduation - English I, Algebra I, and Biology. She will take the U.S. History test this year.
The 17-year-old said she misses the lifestyle and her friends in Mexico City - a fast paced city where the first mode of transportation is walking. She doesn’t like all the driving in the U.S. but does like more opportunity to meet people, go places and learn new things in the states.
Her mother works in Southaven for a cosmetics company and her dad works as a plumber. An older brother works in construction.
Finch, who has been teaching English for Hispanics at Byers for three years, is struck by Gonzalez’s hard work and rapid progress.
“She’s made a tremendous leap and picked up English quickly,” he said.
Gonzalez said her father and older brother speak English well.
She is taking algebra II, English III, U.S. history, desktop publishing, street law and physical science this year.
Gonzalez does not expect to pursue music or entertainment as a career. She wants to study medicine.
“If I have an opportunity to study medicine here, I will study here, otherwise, I will go back home to study,” she said.
Byers guidance counselor Linda Spalding is impressed with Gonzalez’s achievements and talents.
“I think she’s an outstanding student,” Spalding said. “She has a pleasing personality. Whatever she wants to do, she’s going to be very successful at it. She’s so very talented and we’re so proud to have her at our school.”
Principal Gary Hannah agreed.
“We’re very, very proud of her accomplishments and I’m amazed by her talent,” Hannah said. “We wish her the best in her career and hope she’ll be a huge success one day. She’s a talented young lady and works very hard.”
“El Lo Supe” can be found on-line at www.cintasacuario.com.
(662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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