West Rowan High School senior Caroline Wood caught the music bug early.
“My mom always tells everybody that I started whistling when I was 2 years old,” she said. “Whatever I would hear, I would whistle it.”
Those whistling skills have helped Wood become a top-notch flute player, earning her a spot in the annual Honors Performance Series being held this week in New York. The five-day program culminates with a performance at the famed Carnegie Hall.
“I'm really excited because I've worked pretty hard to get to this point,” she said.
Wood spends most of her free time practicing.
“I just play until my fingers hurt, then I take a break and play some more,” she said. “It's not really a sacrifice to practice that much because I love playing.”
Wood picked up the flute in sixth grade after watching Rosemary Kinard play for years at St. John's Lutheran Church,
“She's a big inspiration to me,” Wood said.
Now, Wood plays under the direction of Kinard, who serves as the church's associate parish musician, as the first flute in the church's flute ensemble.
“She's an awesome flute player,” Kinard said. “She gives of her time at the church. She plays often as a soloist.”
Wood tapped into another musical talent this year by joining West Rowan's chorus.
“I figured it would be good to have that versatility,” she said. “I didn't know I could sing until this year. I kind of like to keep it a secret.”
Wood said she's drawn to music because she enjoys the storytelling aspect it presents.
“You can always put a story to something you play. People can really communicate through music,” she said.
Wood has already been accepted into the Honors College at Western Carolina University, where she plans to study music education.
“I'd like to go to a school that doesn't have a good music program so that I can build it up,” she said.
During her time at Western, she plans to be part of the marching band, which she describes as “really, really good.”
“I'm excited about going there because the campus just feels family oriented. I feel like everyone kind of knows each other,” she said.
Daniel Trivette, West Rowan's band director, said Wood's work ethic is unmatched. She's held various leadership roles in the band including drum major and rookie captain. And instead of relaxing during her free period, she works as an intern for Trivette, making copies and getting in extra practice time.
“She's as good as they come,” he said.
Trivette said he's been equally impressed with Wood's activities outside of the band. She's an active member of her church youth group, participating in mission trips, and she works part-time at Doggone Fun Daycare and Boarding.
“She really enjoys giving back to other people,” he said. “It's nice to see high school kids who are that aware that other people are in need of their help.
“There aren't enough people like her out there.”
Trivette said sometimes he worries where his students will end up when they leave West, but he's never had that feeling about Wood.
“I know she'll go on to do bigger and better things,” he said. “She's a really good sharp, smart kid.”
Kinard said she's known Wood since she was a little girl and has been thrilled to see her grow into such a “wonderful person.”
“She is a bright and shining light. I really, really feel that about her,” she said. “She is a most mature young woman that I know, but she's also lots of fun so people are drawn to her.”
Kinard said Wood has been a good mentor and role model to younger members of the church through her work in the youth group.
“Anytime the youth group does any good work I know she is going to be right there in the middle of it,” she said. “Caroline is a beautiful young woman who she is equally as beautiful on the inside.
“I can't say enough about her because I think she is a wonderful example of all things good.”