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Reaching higher

Upper Columbia Academy’s Michael Woodruff is a National Merit Scholar. (JESSE TINSLEY / The Spokesman-Review)
Upper Columbia Academy’s Michael Woodruff is a National Merit Scholar. (JESSE TINSLEY / The Spokesman-Review)

Michael Woodruff shines in school, on violin

Michael Woodruff prays in the morning before he starts each day and prays each night before he hits the hay.

“I wouldn’t be anywhere without my relationship with God,” Woodruff said, “At times it’s difficult to stay humble, but I think humility is all-important when it comes to excelling at things. When you achieve great things, you have to have humility to match it, or you will find yourself back to ground level. Pride doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s a daily challenge to keep God at the center of what I’m doing, but so vital to success.”

Woodruff, 18, is graduating from Upper Columbia Academy in Spangle. It is operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He leaves with a list of achievements under his belt, including the National Merit Scholar and National Honor Society member.

Woodruff maintains high grades while remaining active in other endeavors including junior class president, associated student body historian and chaplain, and his years serving as concertmaster of the Spokane Youth Orchestra, the Junior Symphonic Orchestra and the Junior Orchestra.

Woodruff picked up the violin 10 years ago, and there was a time when he considered quitting but his mother urged him to continue. “I learned the worth of disciplined hard work and effort through practicing the violin,” he said, “For years after I picked it up, I wanted to quit and would have if it hadn’t been for my amazing mom making sure I practiced and telling me it would all be worth it someday.”

He said that playing the violin taught him about the connection between achievements and hard work.Woodruff likes to make the most of his time. He has only sent text messages about five times in his life, rarely chats online, and often listens to audio books on real estate or stock trading rather than music.

He doesn’t believe in procrastination and says that staying on top of your work is imperative for success as is having a good attitude.

“If there’s one thing that will determine the course of your life, it’s your attitude; it’s yours to decide,” he said. “Your attitude reaches everyone you come into contact with. I’ve made it a point over the last several years to have a positive effort through everything. Sure it can be tough but it’s truly an uplifting thing to have a good attitude through any situation. Many times your situation is what you make of it and so, your attitude, to some degree, determines your situation.”

Woodruff has won many awards in academics, music and character throughout his high school career but what really matters to him is the way he lives his life. “I read somewhere that it makes a difference to strive to make every day excellent. If you decide to make each day excellent, and you go about that day looking for the little opportunities to make a difference in other peoples’ lives, that day will be excellent. Those days will add into weeks and then months, and then you just had an excellent year.”

Woodruff’s desire for excellence pushes him to excel in his passions including birding and photography. He loves being out in nature and capturing birds on his camera. He has been doing it for many years and has had his photographs featured on numerous Web sites, in publications, and even in a few books.

He went to Costa Rica to study Spanish intensively for a month, and he has participated in many mission trips and outreach and volunteer programs.

In the near future he plans on doing missionary work overseas where his Spanish will come in handy and then he will go on to Walla Walla University where he will study pre-med, business and more Spanish.

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