• Jonas Noomah is fully invested in living a passion-filled life
By Christina Whiting
A junior at Homer High School, 16-year-old Jonas Noomah is passionate about his work, his music, performance art and living a life of adventure. He is inspired by individuals who express their own passions openly, honestly and freely.
Noomah thrives in Homer’s music and theater scene. For the past five years, he has played marimba, a Zimbabwean instrument that resembles a gigantic xylophone. He is one of six youth who play marimba in Williwaw, the 10-member youth/adult group. He also plays the Mbira, a smaller Zimbabwean instrument.
“Marimba is one of the coolest instruments to play in front of people in a concert or outside,” Noomah said. “You get to hit things with sticks as wildly as you want and people seem to really enjoy the energetic sounding music.”
A member of Colors of Homer, a group of Homer High School teenagers who gather to share their creativity with each other and the community in a supportive environment, Noomah is currently creating songs on his computer, using an electronic keyboard and microphone. He hopes to perform these songs for the group.
“I’m trying to put these tracks together into something I’d be willing to present,” he said. “It’s not that easy.”
Noomah also sings in the Homer High School choir and performs in school’s theater. He has had roles in “Chicken Every Sunday,” “Grease” and “Into the Woods.” In just a few weeks, he will perform in the school’s musical, “The Sound of Plaid.”
Noomah is also active in the high school’s Drama, Debate and Forensics team, where students debate, give speeches and compete.
“When I get to talk for eight minutes without anybody interrupting me, it makes me feel important,” he said.
Noomah and classmate Evan Boyer have been doing an event called Duo Interpretation for the past three years. Last year, the two performed a 10-minute comedic version of Romeo and Juliet by the Reduced Shakespeare Company and came in first place in the state competition.
For the past two summers, Noomah has attended the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, thanks to continued support from the Homer Council on the Arts youth scholarships.
“HCOA has helped me go places like Zimfest and the Sitka camps,” he said. “I’m grateful they’ve helped cover my tuition so I can bring art back to my community.”
This summer, Noomah will attend the Sitka Fine Arts Camp on a full ride, thanks to winning first place in the Flash Fiction category of F Magazine’s writing competition for a piece of short fiction he wrote called “January Creek.” This will be the first time he is recognized for his writing.
Noomah is also passionate about educating his peers. He works as one of four peer health educators at the Youth Resource and Enrichment Coop of Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic. He and his team are part of a project called Promoting Health Among Teens, which teaches teens about safe sex, abstinence and healthy relationships.
He joined the PHAT program because he liked the idea of being employed for his skills and ideas and teaching his peers, while fostering a healthier community. Once he started working, he was drawn in to the dynamic role of providing information on sexual education and healthy relationships to his peers.
“I’m committed to helping Homer change on a larger scale by helping teens avoid the complications that come with sex and relationships and just growing up,” he said.
Last year, as part of his work with PHAT, Noomah was thrilled to visit the remote Alaska village of Unalakleet, located on the Norton Sound.
“The plane landed in this little pocket of humanity surrounded by this giant expanse of wilderness,” he said. “I went on a 10-minute walk and walked around the entire village. It was so different and yet so familiar.”
Fully invested in living a passion-filled life, Noomah is inspired by individuals who express their own passions, like former Williwaw marimba player member Drew Turner.
“It’s not always considered cool to be head-over-heels in love with something, but Drew’s passion for music is one of the reasons I respect him so much,” Noomah said. “It’s his inspiration that inspires me.”
Noomah is committed to his future, though at 16 years old, he’s still sorting through the myriad of possibilities of what it could look like.
“I’m working on working harder, learning better and exploring wilder,” he said. “I’m going to be a lot cooler as I mature and as I learn more. Working harder, learning better and exploring wilder will help me achieve what I want.”
For Noomah, this all means that, as an adult, he knows he will have to work harder to make his way in the world; that he’ll be more focused in his learning and that he’ll venture out on more and more wild adventures.
“I’ll be working a job, supporting a sustainable lifestyle and working harder at things I’m passionate about in order to accomplish them,” he said. “I’ll learn cooler things, learn more quickly and focus on things like going to college, figuring out a major and generally learning. And, I’ll go out into the world, seeing more, exploring more and not just physically, but with a different perspective.”
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