Brandon Castagna learned to pick up the tempo when he joined the Marina High School choir his junior year.
The 18-year-old had mostly skimped on his studies as a freshman and sophomore, preferring to hang out with his friends than prepare for college. When he signed up for music teacher Eric Graham's class, though, Castagna got more than just a group to complement his tenor.
He got the incentive he needed to become a top student. His last two years, while attending night school to make up lost credits, Castagna rose at 6 every morning, appeared in two school musicals and even played backup quarterback for the varsity football team. He gives a lot of credit to Graham, whom he described as an inspiration, and to his fellow choir members.
"The energy I got in choir helped me so much academically," Castagna said. "It was just the best. I had a study group, and it was the people I sang with."
Now, Castagna plans to attend Orange Coast College in the fall before transferring to a four-year university.
— Michael Miller