Ellie McDowell lets her creativity flow through a variety of outlets


Ellie McDowell

Ellie (center) with her two friends in her band class.

In a world sophomore Ellie McDowell has created, a woman must fight her tyrannical brother for the inheritance of the royal throne. However, before she can take hold of the throne, she must end a life.

This is a brief synopsis of the plot of the latest dystopian novel Ellie is writing. As someone who is passionate about writing, especially dystopian fiction, Ellie has written countless drafts of stories of this genre.

“I like the idea of the future,” Ellie said. “A lot of [dystopian books] tend to have very empowered female leads, and I really love that.”

Despite being enraptured by the dystopian genre, Ellie definitely believes there is room for improvement in and outside of this type of story.

Since Ellie loves strong female characters and writes them into many of her stories, she is disappointed in the ways female characters are portrayed in far too many books.

“I think that a lot of female leads tend to need a male co-lead,” Ellie said. “I think that’s not necessarily true.”

On the other hand, Ellie does believe that there are certainly series with strong female characters that are independent from male characters. She is inspired by books such as The Hunger Games and Divergent series.

Although Ellie loves working on her books, this is not her sole creative outlet. While she hopes to continue writing through her entire life, she sees it as a side character in the story of her life. The lead in this story is Ellie’s passion for music.

“It’s mostly just for fun; I’m just kind of writing where my mind takes me,” Ellie said. “I’d love to get something published.”

As far as careers go, Ellie would like to pursue an occupation within the musical field. She plans to double major in music and education, which would lead her to become a high school band director. This stemmed from Ellie’s love of instruments since she first touched a piano in third grade.

Not only does Ellie mainly play the clarinet, but she also performs with many other instruments. In addition to the clarinet, Ellie plays the flute, trumpet, piano, alto saxophone, and tenor saxophone. With such a deep commitment to music, it is a perfect fit for Ellie to become a band director. For such an interest, Ellie has her family members to thank.

“My cousin played oboe, and my other cousin played cello, and I really love listening to them,” Ellie said. “I like the creativity that comes with playing music.”

Ellie also takes inspiration from and looks up to her current band director, Laura Zilhaver. Since she enjoys her band class so much to the point where it has pushed her to want to pursue a career in music, she can attribute much of her success in class to the teacher.

Pre-high school, Ellie was a little lost on where she wanted her life to go, but since she stepped into the band room, Ellie has felt at home.

My band director in high school has really helped me find my place.”

— Ellie McDowell

“My band director in high school has really helped me find my place,” Ellie said. “That’s what my TED Talk is about: how I found my place in my passion in music through this band director, Ms. Zilhaver.”

As Ellie strives to be like her current band director, she also is excited to teach students with her own spin. With such a love for band, Ellie wants to become a dedicated and helpful teacher, as well as emotionally welcoming to her future students.

“[I want to teach students] that music is something to be passionate about,” Ellie said, “but also that there is always a place for them in the band room.”