SEATTLE - Robert Babs will tell you, following his passion was not easy.
”I did encounter a lot of that negativity and confusion, like, why do you do this, why do you like classical music, why do you play violin,” said Babs. “Even I couldn’t explain it. I just loved it.”
Babs loves the violin, and he has learned to tune out critics and just play.
“I somehow caught the classical bug,” said Babs.
By 6th grade, he was a musician and a part of the middle school orchestra - but with orchestra brought obstacles.
“I’m from a single parent home, and I definitely wouldn’t have been afforded the opportunity,” said Babs. “I guess my teacher saw something in me and gave me a violin.”
It’s a gift he carried with him to Cleveland High School. The big campus had keyboards and choir, but it did not have an orchestra. Babs went right to the music teacher, Michelle Maury.
“He kept coming back and he would say, well, can we have a club,” said Maury.
Babs was persistent, and Maury listened to the eager student. However, it takes money to make music.
“I am aware that music and art programs get cut, but I’m also aware that if I have anything to do with it, it won’t happen here,” said Maury.
“Ms. Maury as I call her is the queen of grant writing,” said Babs.
Maury’s pen and persistence paid off. They gathered enough dollars, enough instruments, and enough students.
By Robert Babs’ junior year, he went from soloist to surrounded. Dozens of students helped form the new orchestra.
“That’s when it really took off,” said Babs.
“Robert was kind of the spark at that time when we needed the spark,” said Maury.
It is time for Robert to take a bow. Last month, he said goodbye to high school and students said thank you to him.
“It was probably a big responsibility for a student to speak up and say, ‘Hey, I want Orchestra,” said student Marissa Dominguez.
“He is going to save the world one day. I really believe that. He saved our world a little bit,” said Maury.
Cleveland High School is forever changed, all because people listened to Robert.
Babs will attend University of Washington in the fall. The program he helped start is so popular, Cleveland High School plans to add a second orchestra class next year.