by LIZ ONUFER | photos by Alicia Jeanne Photography

Music and Martial Arts

student_shelpley_2It will come as no surprise that a girl named after the African Savanna and its inhabitants would be drawn to the nature of 92078. A lifelong resident of San Elijo Hills, Savanna Whelpley greatly appreciates the flora and fauna around her home. “It’s always a treat to see a coyote, cottontail, road runner, or one of many bird species,” she shared. Her affinity for the natural world is matched by her talent as an athlete, musician, and artist.

In 2008, Savanna began training at AK Martial Arts and Fitness. From her start in the Little Tiger program to her recently earned black belt, Savanna focuses more on the art than the accolades. “I have earned first, second, and third place in a few tournament events, but practicing the art, not competing, is what I enjoy most,” she said. This includes learning the Korean terminology of her practice, Tang Soo Do. Savanna acknowledged the many challenges she faced to pass her black belt test: “There were moments when I felt like I wanted to quit, but I’m so happy I kept working hard.”

“Practicing the art, not competing, is what I enjoy most.”

As a musician, Savanna began playing the cello in 2013. She finds the practice can be a bit difficult, but the performance is always worth it. “Finishing a piece, either a solo or as a part of the Civic Youth Orchestra, is very rewarding, especially when I get to perform in front of an audience,” Savanna said. She has been playing with the orchestra since last fall and hopes to move on to playing in the Symphony and eventually the Palomar College Symphony Orchestra.

student_shelpley_3Finishing her sixth grade year at High Tech Middle, Savanna enjoys her classes. She recently showcased her work in the Spring Exhibition, presenting a landscape design she created with her partner. “Our plans were for a real client and had to be water-wise, drawn to scale, and fit within our client’s budget,” she said. “It was a great learning experience that integrated conservation science and math.”

Looking ahead, Savanna sees her career aligning with her passions. “I may follow my love for colors and pursue a degree and career in Eco-Friendly Interior Design, working with restaurants and hotels,” she predicted. “Whatever I do, I want music to always be a part of my life.”


Meet Savanna

Name: Savanna Whelpley (11)
School: High Tech Middle
Grade: 6
Parents: Eric and Rebekah Whelpley
Sibling: Jack (6)
Favorite Place in 92078: My favorite place in 92078 is on the turf at the High Tech Village, running around and hanging out with my friends!

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