A student drummer’s story of overcoming challenges: ‘I want to stay here 35,000 years, with everyone in this room’

Courtesy photo: Sebastian Calvillo, surrounded by his drumming partners Adriel Medina Ramirez (left) and Omar Enaso.
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His bandmates call him “the GOAT” (“Greatest of All Time”), but Chaffey High School Senior Sebastian Calvillo simply wants to play his drums the best he can. Who knows … maybe, he’ll catch the attention of his music idol, rocker James Hetfield.

“I was 12 years old, and Metallica got me hooked,” Sebastian said with a big smile, his black t-shirt adorned with the logo of his second favorite band. His favorite? The Chaffey High Jazz Band, which has become a huge part of his life as a legally blind student with a gift for music.

“I want to stay here 35,000 years, with everyone in this room,” Sebastian said as the band prepared to rehearse for a December 15 holiday show in Ontario.

While jazz and heavy metal might seem worlds apart, Sebastian skills as a drummer provide a natural backbeat for both.

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“Seb’s impairment is a strength rather than an impediment,” said he band director, Greg Andrews. “He has a great ear for music.”

With the help of an incredible support system– including student aide Kristine Munoz, his drumming partners Adriel Medina Ramirez and Omar Enciso, and a legion of friends and teachers – Sebastian capably navigates the sometimes tricky world of high school.

“They give me my strength,” Sebastian said.

Andrews, the band director, said every student deserves the opportunity to excel and explore all that life has to offer, regardless of physical or other challenges.

“My approach is to always give students a chance to grow – as a musician and an individual,” Andrews said.

In Sebastian’s case, he gives back just as much as he receives.

“He is an inspiration to other students, his teachers and the entire school community,” said Chaffey High School Principal Christina Martinez.

His Jazz Bandmates agree. Asked to describe their drummer, they didn’t miss a beat.

“He’s the greatest,” they shouted back. “The GOAT … the greatest of all time!”

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