Atharva Iyer poses outside of a music hall with his award from the Illlinois Music Association
Courtesy of Atharva Iyer

When you pass Atharva Iyer in the hall, make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to say what’s up. If you happen to be a teacher, I’m sure you already have recognized him, for his brilliance inside and outside of the classroom. Then, if you pass him as a friend, there is no way you get by without a quick “hello.”

Many factors go into being a great student, like great determination and perseverance. More so, it takes a strong mindset to become a leader. Atharva Iyer has both.

A typical week for Atharva might actually be busier than your busiest week. With a 4.3 GPA and a milestone of seven Advanced Placement classes, he makes sure to balance his time efficiently and incorporate participation in many in-school and out of school events. 

Inside of school, he is involved in the band, along with five honors societies. On Wednesdays, he takes two classes at Waubonsee Community College for Jazz Transcription and Composition, even though he is a junior in high school. He holds board positions in Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honors Society), National English Honors Society, Tri M (Music Honors Society) Science National Honors Society, and has an important role in Rho Kappa (History Honors Society). 

Educationally, Atharva is attentive to many subjects, including math. Atharva ended up finished all of his math courses as a sophomore, which is an extremely impressive feat. This contributes to why Mu Alpha Theta Honors Society is meaningful to him. 

“Proposing the math agendas for the year and organizing the annual math contest is honorable,” Iyer said. “It is a great opportunity for me and the other hardworking board members… including the president, Shea Dickenson, to help the upcoming math students for the future.”

After many math classes at the advanced level, Iyer mentioned that one of his favorite teachers was Mr. Gregory Pelzer. He helped him grow into the knowledgeable math student he is today.

“Atharva was a freshman in my AP Stats – the only one I have in the last decade.  He was smart, but also hard-working – a great combination for succeeding in class and in the real world,” Pelzer said. “I remember him being talented in math and music – he has a winsome personality, continued success – he will continue to pursue excellence.  I see him accomplishing pretty much whatever he sets his mind to doing.”

Though Atharva has a strong love for mathematics, it is his passion for music that keeps him going throughout the day. His emphatic love for playing and listening to music has been a big part of his life since a young age. Classical and jazz music are his favorites to listen to. Atharva has been playing piano for thirteen years and has impacted his life too, winning multiple piano recitals.

Iyer in front of a grand piano on stage after one of his recitals.
Iyer pictured at age 16 at a piano recital. Courtesy of Atharva Iyer

“Music has forced me to reach out to certain people that I wouldn’t talk to normally on a daily basis, but it has created new friendships, new bonds, and new experiences,” Iyer says. “Whenever I am having a bad day, I can play or listen to music, and get back on track with my day.”

Outside of school, Iyer has the extraordinary opportunity to play piano in his own band: Oswego Lil Big Band. The members consist of seniors Ryan Kazda, Erik Dralle, Kyle Bachara, Tony Cassidy, and Ryan Boone. The group enjoys rehearsing together each weekend, along with building friendships that go farther than music. 

“We perform small combo tunes for jazz primarily,” Iyer says. “No matter the stage, it is always very humbling to know that I can make an impact on other musicians out there.”

The Oswego Lil Big Band after a recent December performance. Courtesy Atharva Iyer

Iyer encouraged that many should come out to support the group, through performances at local places or one of the member’s houses. All Oswego High School students enjoy showcasing their musical talent week to week.

The biggest musical accomplishment for Iyer is when he completed the Trinity College of Music Grade A performance exams, finishing all eight at the college level. He is currently trying to finish one more from Trinity test in Music Theory, which would be a huge feat for him. These potentially give out scholarships and college credit, and Atharva is thankful for the opportunity to develop a sense of dedication and practice at a higher level. 

“It was unbelievable, probably one of the greatest opportunities for me,” Atharva says.

His close friend of 11 years, Gabriel Sardo, takes him to school for Early Bird, in which Iyer has the chance to motivate Gabe to get stronger. Early Bird is at 6:20 A.M., in which many students including Iyer and Sardo get to work out before school as a gym credit.

“He motivates me by leading by example and getting you going,” Sardo said. “As a spotter, he motivates me to get in one last rep, and believe in myself. Whatever Atharva gets into, he’s going to be super successful. People expect a lot of big things out of him.”

As a part-time college student, musical genius, and tutor, Atharva never disappoints as a mentor. 

“I always look to be a leader in the school by setting a good example for my peers and leaving the best imprint of our school,” Iyer says. 

It lightens his attitude knowing he can help others by sharing his knowledge. In Iyer’s free time, he tutors students in math and gives out music lessons.

“There is a lot to look forward to in life because I know that hard work does pay off. There is a lot I can achieve before I get out into the real world, which motivates me,” Iyer says.

As much as Atharva wants success for himself, he closely wants it for others, which reflects a true, ideal leader.

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