BRIGHT FUTURES — Matthew Whitten’s smile, spirit lifting Orangefield campus

Published 12:30 am Sunday, August 28, 2022

ORANGEFIELD – Loving being a Bobcat.

Orangefield senior Matthew Whitten has been flourishing at Orangefield since he started in kindergarten.

“I’m so happy that I have been able to grow up in such a tight-knit community and a small community. It makes everything so much more plausible,” said Whitten. “I’ve grown up with all of the students here. It’s such a tremendous family atmosphere, and the teachers here really help us thrive.”

Thriving is something Whitten, the son of Kathleen and James Whitten, has grown accustomed too as he ranks in the top five of this year’s senior class.

His parents always put forth high expectations on education.

“Once I got in high school, it did change,” he said. “Classes get a little harder and your study habits have to change. I’m taking some pretty high-core classes this year prepping for college, so I’m definitely studying a lot. But I’m the type of person that flourishes when I’m learning. I like to learn new things constantly to challenge myself.”

Orangefield Principal Rea Wrinkle describes Whitten as a leader throughout the school and one of the most positive students someone will ever meet.

“He’s the type of person that when you see his big smile, it just brightens everyone’s day,” Wrinkle said.

Whitten’s true love is being in the Bobcat Band.

He’s a tremendous flute player and excels as a soloist. He is also a squad leader and the uniform leader.

Being a part of a band, really helps build confidence and self esteem, and that’s what Whitten likes to show and tell our younger band members.

“It’s very similar to being in a sport,” he said. “You have to build teamwork. Everyone has to be in sync, whether it is playing and reading music or being cohesive as one as far as marching goes. We have a great band here and we take a lot of pride in what we do.”

Team player

Wrinkle said Whitten does so much for the band, organizing, getting the uniforms ready, helping everyone with marching.

“He’s that way as a student, too,” the principal said. “He’s organized for everything and always has a plan to make things work more fluently.”

Whitten has enjoyed playing the flute and has been involved with the Bobcat Band ever since sixth grade.

“Playing the flute is my passion and I’m just crazy about music, studying it and reading it,” said Whitten. “It gives me so much energy, just being in the band and around music so much. It just fires me up. It has really helped me come out of my shell. Being a soloist has really gave me confidence, because I used to be somewhat shy and timid around a lot of people. Now I’m playing in front of hundreds of people at contests. And, of course, there is marching at halftime at football games.”

Whitten and his bandmates enjoy igniting the Bobcats crowd on Friday night games.

They are always so electrifying with the crowds and the game, the senior said.

“I really love it because our section is on the front row and we have a great view of everything going on around us,” he said. “We like what we have prepared for halftime this year, too. I think our fans will enjoy the shows we put on.”

Whitten is a proud member of the Honor Society and looking forward to doing some “special things” with community service.

“I was a Boy Scout, so I love helping people and giving back to the community, whether it is fundraisers or collecting donation items,” said Whitten said.

When not involved in school-related activities, he loves reading, especially fiction.

Whitten estimates he has more than 130 books.

“It may seem a little odd, but I like organizing them on shelves,” he said. “Even when I’m away from school, I still love to play my flute and learn more music; music that is different from what we play at school. I’m constantly wanting to play new things and explore.”

Whitten’s goal is to attend Texas A&M University and major in electrical or environmental engineering.

He also wants to get earn a Master’s and be the first person in his family to earn a four-year degree.

“I’m looking forward to a great school year and spending a lot of time with all my friends,” said Whitten. “It’s been a blast being able to go to such a great school. It will really soak in when Spring gets here, so I’m going to make the best of all of the opportunities.”