Weather Forecast



■ Brianna Ruiz

Grade: Sophomore.

Age: 15.

Art focus: Brainerd Chamber Orchestra.

Adviser nomination: Ruiz has been in the chamber orchestra for four years, Minnesota All State Orchestra as a freshman, All Conference Honors Orchestra for three years and she teaches violin in the “Learn to Play” orchestra program.

Artist most admired: Thomas Kinkade, an American painter.

Memorable fine arts achievement: Making Minnesota All State Orchestra in 2012-13.

Other fine art activities: Pottery.

How old were you when you learned to play the violin: “I was 5. My best friend started playing it, but her brother broke it. I felt that I wanted to play. My parents wanted me to think about it for a year before I could play it. I really wanted to play the violin and when I was able to, I was like ‘Oh my goodness.’ I was really excited. I played it every spare moment I had.”

Was it tough to learn at that age: “It was easier than I thought. I was expecting it to be tough. It’s an intimidating instrument. Julie Tertin (then a high school student) taught me how to play in the ‘Learn to Play’ orchestra program.”

What did Tertin teach you: “She was really nice and happy and willing to take it to my level, instead of the high school level, so I was able to absorb it all.

“I love playing it. I’ve played it for so long. I can’t sing because of my vocal nodules, so violin is my voice.”

And now you teach: “It’s really cool. I have a student who is 5, the same age I was when I learned how to play the violin. Grant (Wilcox, the orchestra director) calls us twins. It means so much more to me to be able to share everything I learned.”

Favorite movie: “Pride and Prejudice.”

Favorite TV show: “Once Upon a Time.”

Favorite book: The Bible.

Favorite band: Rend Collective Experiment.

Favorite restaurant: Chipotle.

Other activities/clubs: Gymnastics and Brainerd Area Youth (BAY) Dream Team.

Parents: John Paul and Rochelle Ruiz of Nisswa.

Honorable mention: Else Peterson, senior, art: “Else is a joy to have as a student. She is a determined young artist who has a unique way of seeing how to solve an art project. Her unusual perspective gives her artwork a distinct and creative quality. Else also possesses a fun sense of humor which her classmates and I appreciate.”

— Compiled by Jennifer Stockinger, Staff Writer. Follow me on Twitter at

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889