Katie Takahashi, 2.0

When they said that it was hard to leave high school behind, they were not too far off from the truth. This is especially true for band and orchestra director Katie Takahashi, who graduated four years ago only to return as a teacher.

This school year marks Takahashi’s first year of teaching. She graduated from Walnut in 2013 and the University of California, Los Angeles earlier in June. While in college, she studied music education, which eventually influenced her to pursue a career in teaching.

“I get to see the school from a different perspective. As a student, I really liked coming to school, to the band room and playing music. But now I get to teach music, which is something completely different, so my perspective has really changed,” Takahashi said. “[But] the fact that I went to school here is pretty awesome, so coming back to Walnut is like coming back home. I feel like I understand a lot of where [the students] are coming from.”

Takahashi’s contributions to Walnut began when she was a sophomore. As a member of the music program, Takahashi founded the Band Buddies club in order to promote music appreciation and educate younger students in her community. Band Buddies is now an established program in which Walnut band students have the chance to mentor aspiring musicians in elementary schools in the district.

“[Band Buddies] was [created] in response to the elementary school music programs possibly getting cut, and at that time, we were all fighting to make sure elementary school music would stay in the district. That’s when I knew that I wanted to be a teacher, when I was helping with that fight through Band Buddies. And now the elementary school music programs are staying, which really shows me how much this community cares about music,” Takahashi said.

This year, Takahashi hopes to continue the legacy of former band director Dr. Buddy Clements while also implementing more mentorship activities for students to interact with their community. She also plans on expanding the music program to become more involved in and around Walnut such as by encouraging more students to join the Tri-M Music Honors Society.

“My goal is to just become familiar with the program as much as possible and get to know my students to the best of my ability,” Takahashi said. “I also hope to keep building the program and introducing students to as much music as possible to create connections between Walnut High School and other [schools] in the district through collaboration opportunities.”

By Ashely Liang, Staff writer
Photo by Airi Gonzalez