Benel Higuchi (15), a freshman at Green Valley High School, studied violin for four and a half years with Eliane Mahlangu, and currently studies with Yunior Lopez. He has participated in the CCSD Honor Orchestra since his seventh grade year, was recently accepted into the Nevada All State Orchestra, and has received only superior markings at the CCSD Solo and Ensemble festivals at the local and regional levels. He thoroughly enjoys the nature of music and its unifying ability as an art.
Apart from being a straight-A student, Benel studies mathematics a year ahead of grade standard. He is also a part of the CCSD Highly Gifted Program, which allowed Benel to take a three-week anthropology course as a part of the Summer Advanced Gifted Education (SAGE) program at UNLV.
In June of 2012, Benel took up Shaolin kungfu. Since then, Benel has earned a total of 9 titles — 5 golds, 3 silvers, and 1 bronze — with hand, staff, and sword forms in national and international competitions. He is a class leader at his school, and stresses the idea of martial arts as a meditation rather than a form of purely inflicting harm on others. He was inspired by his father, a black belt in aikido, and his mother, who always pushes him towards excellence, to study martial arts.