I don’t always appreciate all the life I have. For a very long time, I lived in an unhealthy home and felt that very few people cared about me. Sometimes I came into school feeling depressed. I wouldn’t speak and I always kept my head down. I started hating everyone I met and I didn’t have very many friends. I secluded myself, although I always looked forward to band at the end of the school day.

In band, I have plenty of friends. I am able to be myself and have fun. The people in my band class accept me and make me happy. They make the effort to know me for who I am and they see that I do something I love. And I see them in the same light, too. I am happy in this setting. I always take huge pride in making someone else feel the same way.

—Berlin High School