Zakk Ross, an 18-year-old guitarist and huge fan of rock guitar legend Eddie Van Halen, was the final camper to speak to his fellow bandmates. He won’t be back after being a regular at Rock Band Camp for a number of years. He would age out after this performance having graduated from CCHS a month ago.

That was the joke Ross leaned into before his speech to the others. A fellow camper said he didn’t technically graduate.

People didn’t know how to respond: “Was this serious?” they all seemed to wonder.

Nervous laughter sputtered from the group.

“Yeah, well, I don’t have my diploma anymore,” Ross said.

“He burned his diploma,” chimed in his friend, Chance Robinson, another 18-year-old CCHS graduate in his last Rock Band Camp.

Slack jaws and wide eyes greeted this new information.

“That is the most metal thing ever!” exclaimed Josh Knutson, another camper who would be singing and playing drums in the show.

When Ross finally got to his message, it was incredibly earnest, and his love of music bled through every word.

“If there’s a period in your life where you’re not having fun playing music, just make sure it’s like a habit where you at least pick up and keep it with you,” Ross told his bandmates. “That happened to me during COVID and stuff, so I’m really happy to be playing again because I freaking love it, and I’m just having lots of fun.”


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