BRISTOL - Daniel Szymula, Plainville High Schoolâ€™s salutatorian, will be pursuing a degree in music education at the University of Connecticut. Finding music â€śmentally intriguing,â€ť he was inspired to be become a high school music teacher just like his teacher, Dominic Talotta.
â€śMr. Talotta taught me how to be the person I wanted to be. To be patient, kind and understanding. He knows what to say and how to say it,â€ť said Szymula. â€śIâ€™m a very blunt person. I donâ€™t have a filter sometimes and he called me out on it. He helped me mature. I hope to be like him.â€ť
One of Szymulaâ€™s recent challenges was teaching his classmates a song for their end-of-the-year concert.
â€śSome people think teaching is easy, but it can actually be really hard. You have to think on the fly and you have to listen and react. My job is to communicate all parts. Iâ€™m getting better at being patient and itâ€™s really rewarding to be teaching my classmates,â€ť he said.
Szymula has been playing the trumpet since 5th grade, and is self-taught in piccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet, all four types of saxaphones and piano. He was in concert band, marching band and jazz band all four years and was section leader for two years.
Outside of music, Szymula got involved with cross country and track, which he said was the best decision he made in high school.
â€śI made a lot new friends. I joined because I wanted to try a sport. I didnâ€™t think I could do it, but Iâ€™m more capable than what I thought I could do,â€ť he said.
When he started cross country as a freshman, he was running the 5k in about 25 minutes. At the end of his senior year, he was able to shave five minutes off his time, making a personal best and landing him a spot at the CCCâ€™s.
Szymulaâ€™s other high school activities including the ski club, vice president of the French/Italian Club, active member of the Italian National Honor society, the National Honor Society and the Science National Honor Society. He was also the winner of Mr. Plainville High School.
He was also a councilmember for the State Student Advisor Council on Education, where students from all over Connecticut come to discuss current education problems. In late June, he will be presenting his idea in Hartford to the Board of Education about cultivating interest in education as a career and increasing education diversity.
When heâ€™s not in school sports or band, Szymula is very active within the community as a trumpet player in the Plainville Wind Ensemble, and a volunteer in the Childrenâ€™s Department at the Plainville Public Library.
Szymula is thankful for his parents and looks forward to their summer trip to Italy before moving to UConn.
â€śI had a very good four years here. I feel like I had a better experience than most. I am grateful for self-discovery. I think Iâ€™ve become more outgoing and more confident. I like trying new things and Iâ€™ve made a lot of new friends. Iâ€™m excited to start my next adventure at college, but Iâ€™m sad that itâ€™s ending. I hope my classmates and teachers realize how much theyâ€™ve done for me. Iâ€™m very appreciative of all of them,â€ť Szymula said.
NOTE: The Bristol Press made several attempts to setup an interview with the Plainville Valedictorian.