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High schooler leads multifaceted life
In the library room of the Ashantilly Wing of St. Simons Presbyterian Church, 17-year-old Oscar Meza Contreras instructs Akira Seals, a ninth-grader from Glynn Academy, during Tuesday afternoon's private violin lesson. The duo stand ready, heads tilted and eyes trained on the sheet music, "See Amid the Winter's Snow."

"Ready, go," is all the warning Oscar gives before the two musicians play the piece at the end of Akira's half-hour lesson. With some words of encouragement, Akira leaves to practice on her own while Oscar has a quick break before his next lesson.

He may seem young to be giving private lessons -- after all, he is attending the same high school as Akira -- but that actually works in his favor, said JoAnn Davis, a board member for the Coastal Youth Symphony, of which Oscar is a member.

"Oscar is brilliant," said Davis, who has watched Oscar's musical talents grow since he was a student at Goodyear Elementary School. "With young instructors, they are able to relate to the students on a different level and that creates a bond. Whether it's age, race or background, finding some common ground is important."

But it's not just the violin that the Glynn Academy student takes up in his limited free time away from his Advanced Placement courses and other school work. Oscar, whose native language is Spanish, is fluent in English and is taking German classes online while learning French at Glynn Academy. He eventually wants to master Italian, as well.

His added vocabulary skills are also an asset Davis says the symphony uses from time to time.

"When I look at him, I see someone who came to the U.S. (from Mexico) as a child and was really prepared to thrive," Davis said. "He has kept strong ties to his cultural heritage, too, which is helpful. With some of the Latino students, he is able to help translate for their parents who may not be completely fluent."

As if the violin and language skills aren't enough to keep the high school senior occupied, he is also working on becoming an Eagle Scout. His Scout project, which ends this week, revolves around collecting clothing from his church and community to start a donation program at the Seafarer's Center, a program that assists visiting merchant sailors in Brunswick.

Oscar says he hopes to incorporate different aspects of his interests -- understanding of foreign languages, discipline from music and leadership from Scouts -- to become a surgeon.

"I want to find something I love to do. I don't want to just be in the medical field for the money, but I want to find something to do that I'm passionate about for the rest of my life. I want to be known as someone who is there when there's a need," he said.

* Lifestyle Editor Bethany Leggett writes about lifestyle topics. Contact her at, or at 265-8320, ext. 316.

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