by LYDIA COBB | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Growing Up In Harmony


Katie and Ellie O’Connell are growing up here with their mom, Lisa Suzuki. It’s no surprise that she is often busy getting them to school and extracurricular events. But Lisa is no ordinary mom, and these are extraordinary sisters. “My mom inspires me because she always works hard and teaches me to be the best person I can be,” shared Katie, who’s in middle school at The Academy at Meadowbrook Middle School. Juggling rehearsals and community service events, Katie added, “She never misses a performance!”

talent_oconnell3Katie was awarded the Eugene C. Kim Memorial Scholarship for academics and citizenship last year. She makes straight As, and plays violin in the Civic Youth Orchestra, viola in the school orchestra and Girl Scout String Quartet, and saxophone in the school band. She’s also in Glee Club, Poway Safety Patrol, and on the Science Olympiad team, and mentioned, “I love art and have won an art award each year since kindergarten.”

Ellie is right behind her, but equally matched in spirit, having also won visual arts awards. “My best honor is playing second violin in the Girl Scout String Quartet,” shared Ellie, who also plays violin in the Civic Youth Orchestra and at school, and is involved in student council activities. They’ve both been in Girl Scouts for seven years in the troop that their mom started. Ellie added that it’s fun earning badges, leading younger scouts, and helping seniors and veterans.

Name: Ellie O’Connell (10)
School: Painted Rock Elementary
Grade: 5
Favorite Place in 92064: Poway Performing Arts Center

Name: Katie O’Connell (12)
School: The Academy at Meadowbrook Middle School
Grade: 6
Favorite Place in 92064: The Academy at Meadowbrook Middle School

talent_oconnell4“My nana and papa would take me to the symphony when I was very young,” remembered Katie. “I first told my mom I wanted to play violin when I was in preschool.” Ellie’s musical inspiration also sparked early. “My first instrument was a ukulele my mom got me so I wouldn’t touch Katie’s violin,” she added. Ellie mostly loves to sing opera, can play piano and trumpet, and was Jane in Peter Pan, and described, “I got to fly across the stage at Poway Performing Arts Center!”

“The hardest part is getting up really early or being exhausted after a long community service project,” Katie mentioned of their adventures. Or as Ellie put it, “We might have a five-hour rehearsal for string quartet, but it’s worth it!” In school and on stage, they’re growing up in harmony. They imagine medical careers that give back to people and animals. In the meantime, they’re building upon their dreams, one note at a time. talent_oconnell1