Senior Sundar Solai is pictured wearing his scarlet drum major outfit.
Picture Michelangelo sculpting the historic, six-foot Pietà for French cardinal Jean Bilhères de Lagraulas’ tomb. Picture Michelangelo majestically painting the roof of the Sistine Chapel, flaunting his God-given talent with his brush. Picture Michelangelo exploring the realms of architecture and poetry, showing off his natural artistic brilliance, earning himself the title of Renaissance man.
Now, picture Michelangelo with a clown’s nose and a scarlet drum major outfit, and you’ll see the vibrant image of Sundar Solai, the modern-day Renaissance man: he challenges himself academically in the sciences and humanities, as shown both in class and in his participation in Science Olympiad and National History Day. Solai leads the marching band, and even finds time to crack a few jokes, both in and out of class. “I like to have fun, and I’m a pretty happy person,” Solai said.
Academically, Solai is versatile, and truly explores all the curriculum has to offer: “I like to try everything. I think that’s what school is here for, so I try to maximize that,” he said. As a student, Solai is second to none with a strong work ethic and a brilliant mind. “As I’m teaching, I know that he’s always focused and always right there with me,” calculus teacher Tim Cornell said. Solai is conducting an independent study with Cornell on linguistics and regularly reports his findings to Cornell. “It’s just outstanding,” Cornell said.
Solai exhibits a special creativity in his academic work. In the end-of-year AP U.S. History project, Solai and his group enacted the required skit in the form of a document-based question, using each document to cover the different aspects of the 1970s. “Sundar has a godly work ethic,” bandmate Olu Olorode said.
When Cornell was writing Solai’s college recommendation, he ran into an interesting predicament. “There’s a question on the form asking, ‘How does your student respond to setbacks?’ Sundar doesn’t have setbacks!” he chuckled.
Of all the activities in his demanding schedule, Solai cherishes the marching band, and the camaraderie built within it, the most: “We’re a team, and we spend a lot of time together. I enjoy every moment of it,” Solai said. Now one of North’s two drum majors—the head of the marching band—Solai has played the clarinet for seven years. This past summer, he attended a drum major academy with about 100 other drum majors to prepare for his new role, practicing commands and other leadership skills. “The relationships I built there have really helped me,” Solai said.
Even with such a bustling lifestyle, Solai enjoys playing the role of comedian, both to entertain himself and his peers. In health class, Solai put a humorous twist on a somewhat mundane question. “Mrs. Serughetti asked us what the worst injury we suffered was,” senior Brandon Daley recalled, “and Sundar responded, ‘A broken heart.’” This personality was one of the many reasons Solai won the title of homecoming king, an award he is very grateful for. “It was a huge surprise,” Solai said. “I had a great time. The three-legged race victory during the pep rally was even more surprising, so here’s a shoutout to my partner, Leigh Calotta.”
If Michelangelo were alive today, even he would acknowledge that Solai is a true Renaissance man, likely laughing at one of his jokes while doing so. Senior Marian Farrell added, “Sundar commands a room with his witty and comical confidence. I always have and always will see him as untouchable, on a pedestal. He is so beautiful, from his glowing skin, to his perfect hands, to his impressive vocabulary. There is no doubt that he is one of the most amazing and purely genius people I will know in my life.”