The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

Best of SNO Stats
2452
Published
Stories
594
Participating
Schools
353
Published
Schools
Publication Tips
We'll be the first to admit that getting your story published on Best of SNO is hard. We receive over 100 submissions per day, and only about 15 percent are selected for publication.

There are multiple factors that come into play when deciding if a story is Best of SNO-worthy. From engaging writing and unique angles to well thought out multimedia elements, more considerations are made than it might look.

If you're having a hard time achieving that Best of SNO distinction, check out our past newsletters to get a better idea of the type of content we're looking for.
March 21, 2024
January 26, 2024
November 16, 2023
March 1, 2023
January 10, 2023
November 1, 2022

“There’s no way it ends here”: Violinist Darren Liu ‘24 Shares Special Bond With Music

Violinist+Darren+Liu+24+stands+in+front+of+a+row+of+violins+on+display+at+the+Texas+Music+Educators+Association+%28TMEA%29+convention.+Westwoods+Symphony+Orchestra+was+invited+to+TMEA+for+an+honors+recital+because+they+were+recognized+as+the+best+orchestra+in+Texas.
Courtesy of Darren Liu
Violinist Darren Liu ’24 stands in front of a row of violins on display at the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) convention. Westwood’s Symphony Orchestra was invited to TMEA for an honors recital because they were recognized as the best orchestra in Texas.

Somewhere in Austin, TX, a nine-year-old boy started learning an instrument that would take him all the way through his childhood. Before, he played the piano, but there was just something not quite right. The music was fun, the boy’s fingers glided over the keys, but it did not fill him up, did not instantly connect with him the way it was supposed to. It just wasn’t working. That changed when he decided to watch his sister’s violin lesson. 

Nine years later, he’s still playing violin. But this time, he won’t be practicing at home. In July he will be an adult, ready to take his beloved violin to the University of Illinois. 

“I started when I was a kid,” Darren Liu ‘24 said. “I got into music and thought it was cool because I actually started piano first but I didn’t really like it so I thought it was a good time for me to try another instrument,”

While watching his sister play, his mother asked him whether he wanted to try learning violin. Liu responded, “Sure, why not?” Since then, Liu’s been on an incredible journey, from performing in front of several parents to taking it to one of the most prestigious internationally recognized concert halls, Carnegie Hall, in New York City. 

Story continues below advertisement

“I was extremely grateful to play at Carnegie Hall during eighth grade,” Liu said. “[I went there because] I won a [international] violin competition. It was really special to me and was a very good experience because it was my first time playing in front of such a big audience, in front of people from all over the world.”

When he’s not on a stage, Liu is at school with his fellow classmates, perfecting every note in the Westwood Symphony Orchestra, getting ready for the night when they deliver a breathtaking performance. 

“Just being there, present, and participating in orchestra is already super enjoyable. It’s a great way to connect with other [people who play] different instruments,” Liu said. 

“Just being there, present, and participating in orchestra is already super enjoyable. It’s a great way to connect with other [people who play] different instruments,”

— Liu

Orchestra director Joshua Thompson had an “extraordinary” year with the seniors. Though sad to see them go, he is extremely proud of their hard work and dedication, despite the rigorous academic classes the students take. 

“I would say the feeling is bittersweet because I’m happy for them to go start their lives,” Mr. Thompson said. “That’s what commencement is, it’s the beginning, not the end. But I’m sad to see them go. We get really close in orchestra all these four years, and I’ll definitely miss them. At Westwood, there are so many options they can do. For them to make music a priority when taking a thousand AP [and IB] classes, it’s great that they still find a place to make music.”  

Liu’s mother, Ms. Mei Chang, is also extremely proud of her son’s perseverance and balance between academics and hobbies. Though she always wished he would go to a college in Texas, she knows that it is time for Liu to go out and see the world.

“I am so proud of [Darren],” Chang said. “I knew he was a brilliant child with a talent in playing the violin. I knew it wasn’t the end of his musical journey when he quit piano. I’m glad that he has a very special hobby to take with him anywhere in Illinois or maybe even the world [and] I hope he studies hard and has fun [there].”

This story was originally published on Westwood Horizon on May 20, 2024.