Andy Chen’s first day at Park Avenue Elementary School wasn’t a particularly good day for him. He was pretty scared, he says, because the school was so big and there were so many people and he couldn’t understand what anyone was saying.
Andy is now in Grade 4, but back then he spoke Chinese and had only just begun learning English, practicing the English alphabet at home with his mom. He even broke into tears that first day of kindergarten.
But, he says, everyone was kind to him, and his fear slowly subsided.
“People here were nice, the kids and the teachers. Everybody,” says Andy.
And so he made friends, and he studied his new language faithfully, both at school and every evening at home with his parents. Soon his English was a good as his classmates’.
“He worked extremely hard,” says Park Avenue Principal Sandy Wood, “and he works hard at everything he does.”
Andy applied that diligence to the piano, an instrument he began studying three years ago.
“I practice piano five days a week for about an hour or more depending on how difficult my songs are,” says Andy, who has performed at the Palisades Mall, at church, and for the Warwick Valley Central School District Board of Education.
Like English, the piano was a mystery at first, he says. But each day he practices he gets a little bit better. Studying the piano is a lot of work, he says, but rewarding because he loves sharing music with others. He gets nervous before a show, he admits.
“Then once I’m playing I feel relief. It’s relaxing,” he says.
Ms. Wood says Andy’s perseverance, work ethic, and enthusiasm make him a great role model.
“He’s an awesome kid,” says Ms. Wood. “I admire his character. He’s brave and he exudes kindness wherever he goes.”
Andy also plays soccer and swims, and is looking forward to participating in both sports when he gets to the Middle School. He’d like to be a police officer one day, but will always play the piano, he says, and encourages everyone to learn an instrument.
“You should just try it,” says Andy. “It will be hard at first but trust me, it will get easier.”
Each week, Warwick Valley Central School District Superintendent Dr. David Leach shines the “The Superintendent Spotlight” on one of Warwick Valley’s amazing students. “Superintendent’s Spotlight” features students who reach goals, face challenges, and are role models to their peers.