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entertainment Brainerd, 56401

Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

■ 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