The Student News Site of Enloe Magnet High School

Enloe Eagle's Eye

The Student News Site of Enloe Magnet High School

Enloe Eagle's Eye

The Student News Site of Enloe Magnet High School

Enloe Eagle's Eye

Senior Spotlight: Connor Lee

Senior Spotlight: Connor Lee

Whether you know him as a fellow musician, friend, or simply a classmate, anyone familiar with Connor Lee knows his personality radiates with positivity and his saxophone flows with bliss. From the Enloe Jazz Ambassadors to The Nest Radio, he’s a dedicated leader, mentor, and friend who always follows through and is eager to share his passions and ideas with everyone around him.


Journey to Jazz

Connor’s music journey began with simple piano lessons at 7 years old, something he admits to never truly gaining a passion for. But when he first saw his older brother join his middle school’s jazz band, he fell in love with the genre. 

“I asked my brother: ‘They have sheet music for those solos, right?’ And then he’s like, ‘No, they’re just making it up on the spot.’ And my mind was just blown. Like, how is that possible? It sounds so natural and relaxed,” Connor recollected. “Seeing the art of improvisation, I just could not fathom being able to make something up musically, on the spot, without having any written sheet music. That was just crazy to me. And so, I decided that I wanted to learn some kind of horn instrument.” 

After trying a saxophone for the first time, the rest was history.


Growth, even at the top

By his sophomore year at Enloe, he reached the Enloe Jazz Ambassadors, the school’s top jazz combo. He attributes much of what he learned that year to the mentorship of the seniors at that time, Dylan Lee and Mason Rheinhardt. “I felt a really close sense of community,” he recalls, “and the student leadership really added to that.”

Just because he was in Enloe’s top combo, though, didn’t mean he’d reached a skill ceiling. Going into junior year, the leadership void left by Dylan and Mason’s graduation pushed the remaining jazz musicians, mostly juniors, into those leadership positions. “That year, I definitely learned a lot about how to be a professional, how to work with others, how to receive and also give constructive criticism,” said Connor.

Going into his senior year, Connor sees Enloe Jazz as stronger than ever before.

Recently, they won an award for Best High School Band at the Regional Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Festival at UNC Chapel Hill. This year, the jazz Big Band and top combo have qualified as finalists for the 2024 Charles Mingus High School Jazz Competition in New York City. Connor has himself found many outside-of-school opportunities through Enloe Jazz, taking gigs around the community at Alliance Medical Ministry, North Hills Church, Overture Apartments, and even last year’s Prom, just to name a few.

“Some of these opportunities have spiraled into a whole other thing, where we get recommended to play at other places; it grows our connections,” Connor added. “Some of us have [even] gotten professional opportunities.”


Reflections and Outlooks

Connor’s wisdom for future students is that there is value in recognizing how little you know.

“When I was a sophomore, I thought I had everything figured out,” he said. “I thought I’d made it, that I had everything figured out musically—like, ‘oh yeah, I’m an artist, and all that,’ but I’ve come to realize that it takes a long time to really be able to say that.”

When asked about his overall experience at Enloe, he said: “[It] has really called me to question how I want to spend my time on a large scale. There are so many things to learn here.” Just in his upperclassmen years, he’s branched out towards audio production, which has opened even more doors to the way he interacts with music and sound. He encourages Enloe students to try new things because there’s so much available to learn at this school. “Try to avoid burnout,” he added. “Make sure you’re doing things that you like doing. Just give yourself grace, in general.”

Connor will graduate from Enloe as one of the school’s most talented saxophonists. As he looks back on his time here, he concluded that he wishes to be remembered as “someone who tried, and someone who had an open mind, who didn’t always know everything, and was fine with that.”

After high school, Connor plans to go to college to study music with a concentration in jazz studies. No matter where he ends up, there’s no doubt that he will find success and continue to bring his talent and positivity to everyone around him. Having had the pleasure of getting to know him, one thing is certain: the world needs more Connor Lee, and they’re about to get it!

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About the Contributor
Jadon Frank
Jadon Frank, Podcast Editor
(He/him) Jadon is a senior returning to his second year on the Eagle's Eye as Podcast Editor! You can find him working many unpaid hours as a lighting designer for Enloe Theatre. He has a cat.
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