More than elementary

By Eric Valentine

WRHS junior Claire Watson. Photo credit: Claire Watson

Wood River High School junior Claire Watson understands that so much of who she is starts and ends with her home.

“My grandparents have lived with my mom and me my whole life,” Watson observed. “I think this is a quite unique and special opportunity I have. Before my grandfather’s passing this year, I would spend almost every summer fishing, exploring and spending time with him and my grandmother. My grandma has always been such an inspiration and is the main reason I started playing and studying music.”

Watson’s grandmother’s influence echoes through much of her daily life and endeavors. She is a member of WRHS’s Colla Voce—an all-girl choir that meets every morning at 6:45 a.m. and has just finished its caroling season, where members traveled the Valley fundraising for their  competition in California later in the year.

“Colla Voce has brought me 15 sisters that I never would have had and a space to safely create and learn musically,” Watson said. “It’s the best part of my day.”

The lifelong Valley resident credits her ability to perform in the Colla Voce program and, specifically, Mr. and Mrs. Stimac, who she says taught her to come out of her shell.

“Before my sophomore year, I was incredibly shy and unwilling to put myself—let alone my music—out there,” Watson recalled. “I always had an aching sensation that I had something to say, though. Music has inspired me to open up and express myself like I never have before.”

Currently taking A.P. Spanish and A.P. English, Watson is also involved in Next Generation Politics, the Sun Valley Music Festival education system, the Compassionate Leaders program and performs in plays and musicals with companies like St.Thomas Playhouse and The Spot. She just finished playing Jellylorum in Cats, the musical, and before that played Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof. 

“I plan to attend college in order to further study music,” Watson said. “I also hope to continue acting and musical theatre.”

From there, Watson intends on going into special education where she seeks to intertwine her passion of music and use it as a therapy tool for special needs children.

“By volunteering for Higher Ground, I recognized my love for special education,” Watson explained.

Watson also has an affinity for seeing beyond the surface of things.

“If I could make one thing better about the world, I would most definitely want to implement more understanding and acceptance into everyone’s life. I think misunderstandings and lack of acceptance are the causes for many world issues. If everyone had a little more respect for those different than them, I believe many issues would be resolved,” she said.

Watson says her mom is her biggest supporter and the strongest person she knows.

“Her hardworking and honest skills are things I hope to pick up and learn from,” Watson said. “My mom has never once doubted me, and I don’t know what I’d do without her. She is the reason I am who I am.”

Mom should be proud.