Graduating Francis Scott Key High School Senior Corey Disney has an ear for a tune and a feel for rhythm, to put it mildly.
“As a musician he is extremely driven. He learned multiple instruments,” said Instrumental Music Instructor Bill Duffy, who brought Disney into the school marching band. “He started as a percussionist and then as we needed help elsewhere, he learned to play the tuba, he learned to play the baritone.”
But if Disney has stood out because of his connection with the music, it’s been his connection with other people, Duffy said, that’s been his true distinction.
“The biggest thing about Corey is he does a really nice job welcoming people into our program. He has a huge heart, he’s just a welcoming guy,” Duffy said. “He would go out and find other kids he really thought would benefit from being in our program. Maybe they needed something to help them learn about hard work or work ethic, or maybe just needed a friend, he would reach out to those kids and spend time with them.”
According to Disney, that’s partly because when it comes to being an adolescent finding marching band while navigating the awkwardness of high school, he’s been there.
“It’s a refuge for people who do not have any social skills in high school. They just take you in,” Disney said. “To just give people a home socially and all that, they become stronger, better people, mentally and physically, because we do planks and all that in marching band.”
Marching band certainly made Disney a better person, in his estimation.
“It taught me leadership,” he said. “I became commanding officer and all that, section captain.”
But Disney didn’t just march on the field, he also ran, track and field, and cross country, where he was team manager for two years.
“The most memorable things are the bus rides, with the people,” he said. “I like knowing people on a personal level, not just the outside, but knowing them as a person.”
From music to leadership to fellowship and more, in his senior year, Disney helped found an FSK multicultural club.
“It’s our first year doing it and we’re actually doing a world carnival where we bring in all different cultures from all the countries in the world and bring them in the hallway,” he said. “So when the eighth-graders come, they can see, ‘Hey, this is a welcoming place, no discrimination or anything like that.’”
The club itself quickly grew from five to 11 people, Disney said, and in meetings they would have discussions about social problems that can sometimes be uncomfortable, even for adults. Disney had a method for having successful conversations.
“You just have to be a humble person and understand that people are not going to have the same opinion as you, they come from a different background,” he said. “To be welcoming, no matter who they are, just be welcoming, because you don’t know what they have going on at home and all. Everyone has potential to change the world.”
And after graduating Tuesday night, Disney will soon be off to change the world himself.
“I’m going to Shepherd University in West Virginia. My major is going to be computer information technology and I also got a $13,000 scholarship with the multicultural leadership group there,” he said. “My goal right now is to work in the federal government, like NSA for cybersecurity, helping protect our country from cyber attacks.”
He plans to play in the marching band at Shepherd as well.
But looking back, Disney said, it is the connections he’s made at FSK that will go with him into the future.
“Since we’re a smaller school, we’re more like a family,” he said. “I don’t think anything can replace that.”