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Whiz Kids: A Tip of the Hat to Two Pianists at Samantha Smith Elementary for Week of Feb. 16

Nathan Lee and Jay Grinols are the "Whiz Kids" of the week.

Each week, Sammamish Patch will seek suggestions from readers for individual kids, youth groups, teens, and even sports teams that wow us with their accomplishments.

This week, teachers and front-desk staff at Samantha Smith Elementary School thought that two young musicians, Nathan Lee and Jay Grinols, would be good candidates for Sammamish Patch's "Whiz Kids" feature. So: Congratulations, Nathan and Jay!

Sammamish Patch Whiz Kids of the Week: Nathan Lee, 9, and Jay Grinols, 12

Whiz Kids' School:

Whiz Kids' Accomplishment: The students are accomplished pianists and are finalists in KING FM's Ten Grands Young Artist music competition.

You can see video clips of them playing the piano on the KING FM website. As finalists, they have been invited to perform on April 1 at Benaroya Hall in Seattle.

Nathan Lee's key to Awesomeness: The following are excerpts from a note from Debbie Gagnon, who was his first grade teacher.

"Nathan was a self-manager from the beginning. He was a great listener and very attentive each day. Throughout it all, his smile shined brightly. Though quiet, his sunny personality was always reflected in that smile. I can imagine that the traits listed above would really help a person develop into a wonderful musician. 

You would have to manage yourself and be dedicated to the hours of practice. When watching great pianists, you see their passion for their craft. Nathan’s smile reflects his love for the music he shares with others."

Jay Grinols' key to Awesomeness: The following is from Veronica Hernandez, his current teacher. 

"Jay is a voracious mathematician whose independent drive to excel is inspirational. Throughout the year, the sixth grade has been privy to his musical prowess.

The hallways and classrooms fill with his melodic piano playing. Calmness abounds as the notes surprise and elate the student body. The hidden talent of the silent student in class and the burgeoning artist in public makes for a fascinating juxtaposition."

Editor's note: We want to hear about these amazing children and teens and select one each week as the Whiz Kid. Submit your nomination in our comment box below or email the information to brad.wong@patch.com. Be sure to include all of the following information:

  • Nominator's Name
  • Nominator's E-Mail
  • Whiz Kid's Name
  • Whiz Kid's Age
  • Whiz Kid's School
  • Whiz Kid's Accomplishment
  • Whiz Kid's Key to Awesomeness (what made him/her successful? Please include a 150-word description)

Just a gentle reminder: This is not a competition. This is just a nice community way to highlight young people in Sammamish - and especially those who inspire. Sammamish Patch will try and feature as many students as possible.

Also, thank you to the teachers and staff who have suggested students for this feature.

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