Spotlights

Face of the Week: Daisy Nairuba of Randallstown High School

Team BCPS is made up of thousands of accomplished and interesting students, employees, and community supporters. “Face of the Week” introduces you to some of the people who make BCPS such an amazing mosaic of talent, caring, and commitment.
03/28/2017
Face of the Week: Daisy Nairuba of Randallstown High School

For a while, in the years after she’d moved from Uganda to Pikesville, Daisy Nairuba used her passion for music as “my way out. It was my way out of bullying. It was my way out of stress. It was my way out of everything.”

Music even became Daisy’s way out of what she thought was an embarrassing part of her life. At Sudbrook Magnet Middle School, she remembers telling friends she was enrolled in the school’s chorus magnet program, not the program for English for Speakers of Other Languages, or ESOL. “I lied, and I got caught up in it,” she says. “Everyone thought I was in chorus.”

But the day came when the school’s different programs presented their magnet classes, and Daisy, with her natural enthusiasm and positivity, was chosen to carry the ESOL program’s banner. Her friends were shocked; “They told me, ‘Why didn’t you tell us you were in ESOL?’ It was embarrassing.”

And while Daisy might have been shy about admitting she was in the school’s ESOL program, it surprised no one that she chose chorus as the magnet of her dreams. She loved singing; everyone knew that. She’d known for a while, too, of course; her mother, Anne Nsimbi, regularly sang to her before she was born.

And when she was a child, at the Saturday youth group meetings at her old church in Uganda, when she sang and people filled a hat with money (that Daisy spent on tomatoes) – that left an impression as well. It happened again after she moved to America, when she was 11 and singing “Amazing Grace” in her new church and saw the pastor brought to tears as she sang. “That was powerful,” she says now. “I learned I could move people with my voice.”

Finding her voice at RHS

So Daisy Nairuba came to Randallstown High School with a passion for singing and a growing desire to express herself through her voice. She joined a singing group called the “Gucci Group” and sang locally, and teachers coached and encouraged her, even as her interests multiplied to include running track, playing tennis, and becoming involved in the school’s African Student Association.

But her voice seemed troubled. By last August, the start of her junior year, something bothered Daisy. Something was missing, she mused. In her junior year, the school had no outlet for her desire to sing gospel or pop or R&B. “There were places I could sing at school, but it wasn’t the same as what I wanted to do,” Daisy says. “Music is, for me, a place to heal yourself, to really know yourself, and I didn’t think we had anything that could do that.” 

She entered the NAACP’s ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics) Competition and placed third regionally – not strong enough to go to nationals but impressive enough so that a competition judge asked her to audition for another local vocal group, the Singing Sensations.

“It wasn’t until I invited Daisy to sing ‘Happy birthday’ to a student in our AVID class that I realized how talented she is,” teacher Cecily Cooper says. “That is how quiet and unassuming Daisy is.  She does not seek the spotlight, but if given the chance, she will step up to impress.” 

Finally last fall, at school, an idea began to grow. Daisy and a few friends began asking teachers and friends whether they could start a “glee club” for aspiring vocalists. She met with Randallstown’s principal, who asked her how a glee club could benefit Randallstown High, and she gained support from Cooper, who saw Daisy’s drive as an AVID student and signed on as the group’s faculty advisor.

“With the legacy mindset like that, that this was to be a permanent thing here at Randallstown,” says Cooper, “I’m willing to invest my time and energy to work with students who want to leave a place better than they found it.”

The Glee Club blossoms

Half a school year later, the Randallstown High Glee Club boasts about a dozen members and is lining up trips locally and further afield to share its talents. The group is performing at the school’s graduation ceremony this spring, and Daisy’s dreams for it and for herself continue to grow.

“I always imagine myself on stage performing, but I worry about failing,” she says. “I want to be like Beyonce; she’s my idol.”

First, though, she seeks to build the glee club and tap into her classmates’ talents. “I know Randallstown has lots of talent,” she says, “I just need to find it.” The group has sponsored coffeehouse concerts and a holiday concert, and Daisy says she hopes the group can soon begin travelling regularly as well as competing against other schools’ glee clubs.

Cooper is confident the group will thrive, particularly as long as Daisy remains involved and singing. “Daisy is one of those students that, as a teacher, you know that you won’t forget,” she says. “Like a sponge, she absorbs everything that she can use good, bad or indifferent – to help her to succeed.”

Do you know of a special person who would be a good candidate for the BCPS “Face of the Week”? Let us know! Send their name, contact information, and what makes them special to cherndon@bcps.org.  

For more photos, visit the BCPS Flickr site at www.flickr.com/photos/bcps/albums/72157679936475061.

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