North Salem senior to graduate, pursue dreams


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4:29 p.m. PDT June 9, 2016

If there is one word to describe Roberto Ramirez, a senior and soon-to-be graduate from North Salem High School, it is “hardworking.”

Whether he is playing his saxophone in the multiple ensembles he enjoys taking part in, dumping rain from his hat as he marches despite a storm, composing his own music, or applying for scholarships to pursue his post-graduate dreams, people who know Ramirez know he is determined.

“He has always been a great student and musician,” said Brian Bell, the band teacher at North Salem. “But his attitude and work ethic are really what sets him apart.”

Ramirez, 18, will graduate Friday from North Salem and plans to attend Warner Pacific College in Portland to pursue a degree in music education.

Born in Mexico, Ramirez came to Salem when he was 5 years old. He attended Hoover Elementary School, Parrish Middle School and North Salem.

He grew up wanting to pursue medicine, but said he was so inspired by teachers such as Bell that he changed paths. By becoming a band teacher, he said, he will be able to continue music while helping people as Bell helped him.

As the first person in his family to go to college, Ramirez said, he appreciated the help Bell was able to give him on scholarship and college applications. He was awarded a few scholarships for academics and music.

“It feels really good,” he said.

Ramirez said his mother helped him and his sister get where they are today “despite not having all the opportunities” others may have had, Ramirez said.

Although he is a little nervous for the graduation ceremony Friday, he is looking forward to his relatives coming to support him as he accomplishes this goal.

Tuesday, Ramirez said he couldn’t believe he was only three days away from graduating high school, his biggest goal before college.

He thought back on his favorite moments from his time at North, all of which were with the band.

“Roberto is representative of a lot of kids in (North Salem’s) band,” said Sam Skillern, a parent with the North Salem Band Boosters club who has known Ramirez for seven years.

“A lot of these kids have so much talent though they might not know it and the community might not expect it,” he said. “It’s been a joy to see him discover it.”

Skillern also spoke of Ramirez’s strong work ethic and dedication to become a successful musician, having won many titles, such as first in state with a quartet for state solo and ensemble.

He said, “(Roberto) is just a great, positive spirit in a world that can be so pessimistic.”

Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal. Contact Natalie at, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate, on Facebook at or on the Web at


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Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. Natalie has previously worked for organizations and publications such as Direct Relief International, Waging Non-Violence, and Amnesty International USA. She has had stories published with USA Today, Associated Press and Ozy, among others. Natalie earned her B.A. in Politics and French and Francophone Studies (FFS) from Willamette University. During her studies, she wrote a Politics thesis titled, "No One is Dying: How and Why the U.S. Federal Government Avoids Executing Prisoners on Federal Death Row" and an FFS thesis, in French, on cannibalism in the 16th and 17th centuries. Natalie is a journalist, performer, traveler, fiction writer and more. She is working to publish her dystopian novella, "Choice," which follows a man during 24 hours in solitary confinement for allegedly committing murder. For more information on Natalie visit, like her on Facebook at, or follow Natalie on Twitter (@Nataliempate) or Tumblr (Nataliempate blog "In the Shoes of a Journalist"). Her reporting with the Statesman Journal can also be found at

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