Melanie’s Journey to the Rising Star Honor Roll

Each year, Chicago celebrates creativity at the Fifth Star Honors. This year, the city is celebrating hip hop artist and actor Common, architect Jeanne Gang, artist Kerry James Marshall, Steppenwolf Theatre Company…..and our very own student, Melanie Moran!

Melanie earned a spot on the The Rising Star Honor Roll- “a recognition for students who show creative leadership, passion and exceptional skill in the arts”. Melanie will be celebrated as one of our next generation’s creative voices and we couldn’t be more proud of her. Along with Melanie’s achievement, The People’s Music School is a proud recipient of a DCASE City Arts grant.
The story of how Melanie’s honor came about is almost as exciting as the award itself! Melanie has been a student at The People’s Music School for 7 years and plays the violin. Carolyn Sybesma, our Program Director, has known Melanie for over 4 years. “It’s been such a privilege watching Melanie develop as a musician and person. She has worked so hard to become an extraordinary violinist and has grown into a thoughtful, impactful leader at our school.” When Carolyn learned that she could nominate a student for the Rising Star Honor Roll, she immediately thought of Melanie. “Along with being a great musician, Melanie is also a great person. She embodies the values of our school – excellence, hard work, creativity, and community – and is a role model to our younger students.” 



There was one challenge however- the deadline was the following day and Melanie had almost no time to prepare. Melanie was also nervous about some of the information she had to provide on the application. The process was so competitive, why would they choose her? “At first when I heard about the Rising Star Honor Roll, I was totally up for it. Then I saw the requirements and I backed down from applying. I have had a rough time with school the past three years and thought I wouldn’t get the nomination because of that. It really brought me down.” Melanie almost considered pulling out, but Carolyn reminded her to believe in herself and aim high. “Melanie has so much to be proud of. I told her that nothing should ever hold her back from going after her goals – and that she had nothing to lose!” Carolyn’s belief in Melanie helped convince her to complete the application. 

At The People’s Music School, our staff are not just instructors to our students-  they are life coaches, parents and cheerleaders all rolled into one. They help our students reach for and past their highest potential and teach them to dream bigger than they ever imagined. The entire process was a great learning experience for Melanie. She learned that “I should always have an open mind and shouldn’t back down from the opportunities that come my way. Even if I don’t feel like I’m qualified – what really matters is the kind of person you are.”

Melanie will be honored at a private event tonight, but you can celebrate with us next week!


Fifth Star Honors Show and Concert
Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion
August 28 6:30-9:00pm
Free Admission

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