Senior High grad hooked on service

2013-05-22T00:05:00Z 2014-08-25T07:35:14Z Senior High grad hooked on serviceBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Madeleine Duncan, an accomplished clarinetist, first picked up the instrument the summer before fifth grade. 

But it wasn't her first pick.

"When I was little, I wanted to play the tuba," she said. 

Duncan is getting ready to graduate from Senior High at the end of the month and it's been a busy, fulfilling four years. Between her time in the classroom, school clubs and band, she's volunteered for local causes, played principal clarinet in the city's youth orchestra and joined a folk dance troupe. 

But last year, she wanted to finally try the tuba.

So she knocked on the band director's door during the first week of class her junior year and asked if he'd let her play tuba in the marching band. 

"He said yes," Duncan said with a laugh. "It was so much fun."

They fitted her for a sousaphone — the marching band's version of a tuba that fits around the waist — and she blew low, bass notes all fall.

Music has long been a passion for Duncan. And it will continue after she leaves Senior. Beginning this fall, she'll study clarinet performance at Lawrence University and Conservatory in Appleton, Wis., where she'll also study neuroscience, pursuing a double degree.

Upon graduating from college, she hopes to become an occupational therapist. 

"She's super smart," said her principal, Dennis Holmes. "Very talented musically."

But what really defines her, Holmes said, is her seemingly unquenchable desire to serve those around her. 

"She's very generous, very caring," he said. 

Duncan has been involved with the Girl Scouts since she was young and continues to volunteer with the organization. This summer, her last summer at Girls Scout camp outside Red Lodge, she'll be a camp counselor. 

As a part of Arts Without Boundaries, she teaches clarinet to disadvantaged kids. As a junior and senior, she mentored underclassmen through Senior Advocates and as a sophomore, worked with special education students through the Peer Tutor program. 

She's also president of the school's Key Club this year. 

Duncan isn't sure why service is so important to her. It's just something she enjoys and something she finds immensely satisfying. 

"Everything inside me," she said. "Every time I do something good, I feel so happy inside."

She credits her parents, in part. Duncan is the youngest, and when she leaves home her parents will become empty-nesters. She knows they'll miss her. 

And she'll miss them, too, eventually. But for right now, she's just excited to get out and experience life. 

"I want to see the world," she said. "I'm not scared of leaving home at all." 

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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