Thrives by giving back to others

By Emilee Mae Struss

WRHS senior Andrew Garratt is charging forward with his passion for singing and psychology—one irregular heartbeat at a time. Photo credit: Hillary Maybery

Wood River High School senior Andrew Garratt has a big heart for people and a passion for singing. This past year he also discovered something very different about his heart. He has a condition called cardio-neurogenic syncope.

“I discovered this when I was working at the airport on a really expensive plane,” Garratt said. “I was on top of a ladder cleaning and then all of a sudden I woke up in an ambulance.”

Garratt’s heart rate slows down and causes him to pass out in order for regular blood flow to return to the heart. Following the accident, Garratt received several injuries, including a concussion. He now has a pacemaker, which regulates his heart rate.

“It’s OK now,” Garratt said. “I’ve had a pacemaker for one year.”

However, his heart condition has definitely changed his life. Garratt played varsity boys basketball for two years at WRHS and was also a pilot, neither of which doctors will allow him to continue.

Letting these things go was a challenge for Garratt but he has other talents that he’d like to pursue. Garratt loves acting and singing. He discovered his passion for singing in fifth grade when he auditioned for and received a lead role in a Christmas play. He got to play Santa Claus.

“I realized after playing that part that I really like being on stage and singing,” Garratt said.

Garratt is involved in a cappella, a group that uses only sounds from voices and no instruments to make music. The B-Tones, an all-male choral group, and opera with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony are the ensembles Garratt performs with. He recently returned from districts with his choir group from WRHS and received not only first in his category of solo baritones, but also the best overall score for the entire competition.

In school, Garratt is enrolled in Advanced Placement Government, Advanced Placement Environmental Science, College English, Spanish III and Choir. He has a 3.6 GPA and is proud to say he leads a pretty well-rounded life.

Garratt is also involved in W.A.T.E.R Club, an environmental club; Next Generation Politics, a club that teaches about government and political parties; and the Bluebirds, a youth club in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) that brings awareness to mental health.

Next year Garratt plans to attend Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash.,  and plans to major in psychology with a minor in behavioral neuroscience.

“I think people are the most fascinating thing on this planet,” Garratt said. “I love helping people and learning how people work.”

Garratt says that his Advanced Placement Psychology teacher, Joel Zellers, inspires him to learn more about the human brain and how humans operate.

“I decided that if I can’t fly, I’m going to pursue something in psychology,” Garratt said. “And in the future, I just hope to be able to give. Biologically, we are selfish creatures, but I think one way to achieve enlightenment is to give to others.”

Editor’s Note: Anyone who would like to recommend a Blaine County School District student for The Weekly Sun’s “Student Spotlight” feature should contact Emilee Struss at