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TAYLOR RIDGE — Megan Benac turns from right to left and places her cellphone on the table.

It had just dawned on the ever-polite and gracious high school senior, the point she was about to make would be best served using her hands.

It was about a unique and important turning point in her life.

Back in sixth grade, when the call went out for anyone interested in band, Megan sought the advice of two people she trusted. Her brother, Ryan, and cousin Bre were already two years into their band careers and having the time of their lives.

"They told me how much fun they were having and band was a great opportunity for me to be involved in something special,'' Benac said, taking her hands and folding them to make her point.

"I trusted their judgment; I really get along well with my older brother and trust him. He has been so helpful along the way. Both of them were right about band.''

Since taking that step toward band, Benac has shined. She is one of the area's top flautists and is a four-year member of the Rockridge marching band, earning drum major honors as a senior.

She is a member of the school's jazz band, concert band, pep band and is part of the highly touted Quad City Youth Symphony Orchestra.

 "I tried the oboe first and nothing came out,'' Benac said of her initial initial instrument try six years ago. "Then I tried the clarinet, and again nothing came out. But once I got a sound from the flute, I knew I had something.''

That something, though, would have to be refined. There would be hours — that  turned into days — of practice. The time, the effort and the trials and tribulations of making music, have, Benac says, been worth it.

"I have made so many wonderful friends and been given the opportunity to do so much,'' said Benac, 17, of Milan, who also plays the saxophone and says she has a huge passion for classical music. "We have have a really good band here at Rockridge, and it has been a big part of my life.''

Benac, ever modest, shrugs off her selection to the Quad City Youth Symphony Orchestra, though she was beyond excited at performing with the elite musical ensemble this Sunday at Augustana College

"It's a great honor,'' said Benac, a member of the scholastic bowl and speech teams at Rockridge. "I can remember getting the call I had been selected to be part of the youth symphony. We were in Wisconsin on vacation; we take a lot of vacations, my family. I was in the car and my family was inside this restaurant and when I got the email saying I was selected, I just sprinted inside so I could tell them.''

A National Honor Society Member at Rockridge, Benac — despite the many snow days this school year — knows graduation is just around the corner. Though nothing is set in stone, she says a two-year start at Black Hawk College appears to be the first step to a career as a pharmacist. The University of Iowa, Drake and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville have the inside track for Benac's post-BHC plans. Music, she says, will always be part of the plan.

"A chance to be a pharmacist is something I have always wanted to chase,'' said Benac, who also manages to hold down a part-time job at the Milan Hy-Vee, despite her hectic schedule. 

And the future?

"I'd love to live just on the outside of a big city,'' Benac said. "Work in that suburb and have the opportunity — if I wanted — to be part of a big city each day. That's a few years off, but I believe it would be cool.''



John is a columnist and reporter for

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