Jack Chakerian has two major passions — languages and classical guitar. He has excelled in both areas and shared them with others.
Chakerian, who has studied classical guitar since he was 7, has demonstrated determination and self-discipline, former longtime teacher James Thornton said.
“In my 10 years as a teacher at The International School of Florence in Italy and 13 years as a private teacher in Gig Harbor, I rank Jack among the finest young students with whom I have had the privilege to introduce and share the complexity and beauty of the classical guitar,” Thornton said.
Chakerian has performed publicly in many recitals and in venues that range from restaurants and churches to art galleries. The highlight was a recent concert for the Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH food bank, a benefit Chakerian organized along with fellow musician Ben Long.
“I was very impressed how much our community gave to the FISH food bank,” Chakerian said. “FISH is an excellent program helping those in need in the community.”
Thanks to his father’s career as a pilot, Chakerian already has traveled to several countries, and he plans to travel much more as an adult. He is conversational in three languages — Chinese, Japanese and Spanish — and he has been learning several others.
“I love studying languages and using them to speak with people from around the world,” said Chakerian, who founded CAF, a club for foreign culture and students, last year at Gig Harbor High.
Heidi Steele, the school’s Chinese teacher, said Chakerian immediately stood out in her class as “a talented student with an insatiable desire to learn.”
“Jack is an upbeat and positive individual whose academic achievement is driven by curiosity and a love of learning,” Steele said.
Among others, Chakerian’s achievements with Chinese include winning a regional competition as part of a four-person China Knowledge team, placing first in a regional public speaking competition for non-heritage language learners, and being selected to be an emcee for an awards ceremony at the regional Chinese language and culture competition in Seattle.
He is leaving his career options open so far, but he’s considering music performance, international studies or creative writing. If he selects the music arena, one of his dreams is to compose scores for films, he said.
“Music has helped me immensely,” Chakerian said. “It has taught me so many things, discipline and skill development. No matter what I do, I’ll take that into the my future.”
Category: Music, Drama and Arts
Education: Senior, Gig
Harbor High School
Parents: Tom and Kathy Chakerian
Activities and achievements: Twelve years of classical guitar study; guitar teacher; Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artist Competition participant; China Knowledge Bowl team, first place at regionals; first place nationally in Asia Society’s Summer Chinese Language Learning Multimedia Contest; conversational in Chinese, Japanese and Spanish; studies five other languages; Washington state student delegate to China
Favorite teachers: Heidi Steele, Chinese, and Michele Gilbert, AP composition, “for their deep knowledge and passion for their subjects.”
Best thing about high school: “The culture of the school is definitely the best thing about GHHS — the different groups, friends and characters that you meet.”