Just about a year ago, David Ross was preparing to participate in MusicFest Northwest, one of region’s most celebrated cultural competitions on the campus of Gonzaga University.
Then he ran into trouble with a motorcycle.
The accident left Ross with a severely broken left wrist just three weeks before the event. Playing the piano, let alone a Mozart composition, seemed as probable as the junior from Central Valley High School in Spokane Valley lugging a Steinway down Interstate 90 to the Gonzaga campus.
Yet there was Ross, one hand in a cast, relearning Sonata in D, K576, in preparation for the musical occasion of the year.
David Ross of the Evergreen in the Spokane East Stake won his division at MusicFest Northwest last year despite a broken wrist.
“I had to learn the piece in a whole new way,” Ross said. “This really taught me patience and creativity.”
In an effort that is now part of MusicFest lore, Ross competed courageously and took first place in his category. He would joke later that he “singlehandedly won” his division.
Now a senior, Ross has compiled an impressive collection of honors both in music and academics. Earlier this month, he was named Spokane Scholar of the Year in English. He has also earned recognition as a Washington State Scholar, National Commended Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction.
The valedictorian for Central Valley’s class of 2012 may be studious, but friends will tell you that he is far from somber. When asked about his 4.0 grade point average, the self-proclaimed “lifelong nerd” notes that the mark “has just recently been surpassed by the price of gasoline.”
Ross won a Humanitarian Service Leadership Award for his work in Peru with an LDS group two years ago.
The devoted fan of a certain science fiction series is also known for hobbies such as utilizing the Force to defend his home planet from the Galactic Empire.
“I love ‘Star Wars,'” Ross said.
When he is not battling stormtroopers or practicing a complex piece on the keyboard, Ross enjoys reading, writing and contributing his time to a variety of causes. Two years ago, he traveled to Peru with an LDS group to volunteer at an orphanage. At school, he is president of a group called Key Club, which coordinates community service projects such as an annual food drive and a fleece blanket collection this year that benefited homeless children.
For his Eagle Scout project, Ross gathered 1,500 pairs of eyeglasses from area churches and retirement homes. The glasses were eventually delivered by LensCrafters to residents in disadvantaged regions of Mexico.
A member of the Evergreen Ward in the Spokane East Stake, Ross said adherence to gospel principles has provided him with a reliable foundation for success.
“The doctrines of the gospel have given me an eternal perspective, especially in school and piano,” he said. “God knows all things. He is literally the creator of every subject I’m learning about in school. So, why then couldn’t He help me learn His subjects? When I put scripture reading first, I do better in school. The Spirit testifies of truth and goodness. Prayer is essential. When I feel discouraged and weak, it’s because I’ve forgotten to pray to Heavenly Father.”
Ross maintains a 4.0 grade point average and was named valedictorian for the class of 2012 at Central Valley High School in Spokane Valley.
As far as setting an example and holding fast to eternal priorities, Ross said he gains strength from two basic practices.
“To maintain standards in a dark world, you have to read your scriptures and you have to pray,” he said. “It also helps to write lists of things to be grateful for. Cleanliness starts internally. Internal habits become eternal habits.”
Ross will attend BYU-Provo in the fall and has plans to serve a full-time LDS mission. He said his decision to take two years out of his life to share the gospel came about “because the Lord has given me everything.”
With around 150 fellow LDS students at Central Valley, Ross is just one of the “Mormon kids” who attend seminary and do their best to represent standards that often go against the common grain. Ross said he understands the importance of choosing the right, even when it may not be the most popular decision.
“Almost all of my friends are aware of my faith,” he said. “Many of them respect the lifestyle that the LDS kids at school live. There are a lot of great kids at CV, whether they are LDS or not. I hope I have been a good example. I’m definitely not perfect, but I have been an advocate for the Gospel and for the principles I believe in.”