Wolfgang Beck

Gig Harbor High School senior is ranked No. 1 in his class, and he's an accomplished athlete and musician

Students of DistinctionMarch 19, 2014 

Wolfgang Beck is a multi-talented student who has pursued many interests and succeeded in all of them. Ranked No. 1 academically, he’s earned accolades not only for his schoolwork but also for his musical talents, leadership and athletic pursuits.

He started to learn the piano keyboard when he was 5 and quickly discovered he enjoyed playing his own music rather than other composers’ work. He taught himself to read music and has worked his way from simple songs to 20-part compositions. Beck has composed about 250 pieces, including some for bands, since he was 6.

The highlight of his musical career was when he won a song-writing competition held by the Seattle Symphony. As part of the prize, his composition debuted at Benaroya Hall.

“That was a rewarding experience,” Beck said. “The musicians perfectly emulated the sound I imagined in my head. Sharing my music with the audience is like sharing my thoughts with the world.”

Beck got some friends together and started a band called Arletta Sound as he looked for a way to perform the music he composes. The band quickly grew and started to perform at various venues.

“My friends asked me to teach them composing,” Beck said. “I’ve been able to teach others, and that’s special to me.”

Beck started to play baseball when he was 5, and he became interested in running when he was 8. Three years later, he was running in community races.

Since then, he’s developed his skills throughout high school, and he was part of the Gig Harbor High School team that won the national championship in December. Beck finished sixth in the nation during the event.

“I like running because it takes talent, but also, the smarter and harder you work, the better you get,” he said.

Beck has been described as a tenacious and focused person whose achievements far surpass his years.

“I have often heard his classmates comment on how smart Wolfgang is, and without fail, they follow up by remarking on what a good and kind person he is as well,” Gig Harbor High School Chinese teacher Heidi Steele said. “For Wolfgang, exceptional intelligence and ability do not isolate him from others. Rather, he has found ways to connect to his peers through shared interests and by mentoring in many different capacities.”

Beck plans to study biology and run cross country and track at Princeton University. He hopes to become involved in cancer research. His decision was partly influenced when his grandmother died of ovarian cancer.

“I’ve seen how rudimentary treatment is,” Beck said. “We need breakthrough in science.”

Wolfgang Beck

Category: Academics

Education: Senior, Gig Harbor High School

GPA: 4.0

Parents: Douglas and Mimmi Beck

Activities/achievements: National Merit finalist, GHHS valedictorian; Seattle Symphony classical composition competition winner; three-time CE Scholastic Regional Chinese Competition winner; AP Scholar with Distinction; all-state trombone finalist; Rotary Club Student of the Week; composed music for Tacoma Community College jazz band; No. 6 runner at national cross country event; nine AP and five honors classes.

Favorite teacher: Heidi Steele, Chinese. “She’s passionate about teaching and devoted to her students. Her creativity and enthusiasm make Chinese class the highlight of every day.”

Best thing about high school: The learning environment. “I’ve loved that Gig Harbor High School is a supportive, educational community that provides students the freedom to explore all of their areas of academic interest alongside their career-oriented curricula.”

The Peninsula Gateway is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service