Brothers’ Challenge: Siblings motivate each other to succeed

Ethan Mowers, 10, a seventh grader at Coakley Middle School. By Travis Whitehead, Valley Morning Star

HARLINGEN — Ethan Mowers makes a great cheesecake.

His brother Nathan, 13, plays basketball on the side.

Ethan, 10, plays a great alto sax in the Coakley Middle School Concert Band. Nathan plays cello in the orchestra.

The Mowers boys, both seventh graders despite their ages, have just completed high school geometry. Now they’re getting ready for junior-level algebra II.

They’re both looking forward to the challenge.

“Back then when I was younger, math was really easy but then it got really boring, so it makes me feel good to get a challenge,” said Nathan, who will play his cello this summer in the Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall.

“I like the cello,” he said. “The violin is high-pitched and the base is too low. The cello is somewhere in the middle and it sings better.”

Both boys performed very well Saturday in the Texas Math and Science Coaches Association competition at the University of Texas-San Antonio. Nathan took 12th place in number sense. Ethan, who goes by Timmy, took fifth place in the same event. He took 16th place in the math subject area and second place in the science subject area. The boys competed against hundreds of students from throughout Texas.

Although they helped each other prepare, there is some rivalry.

“The competitions are between everyone who enters it so since we are in the same grade level we both get into the same events,” Nathan said. “We practice together doing number sense tests. I’ll do one and then he does one and we’re doing it together to see who gets the higher score.”

So, they’re three years apart but they’re both in seventh grade?

“When I was in first grade, they actually kicked me out of the room because I was always answering all the questions,” Ethan said. “Then the principal decided instead of me sitting in the hallway reading a book, he decided to send me to second grade.”

And it just took off from there. Academics, culinary skills, reading and music are big parts of his life.

He demonstrated great skill with his alto sax. His nimble fingers seem to dance over the buttons of his alto saxophone, the notes flowing beautifully into the band hall.

“It’s not as hard as the actually brass instruments because those you have to like change to get the different notes out,” said Ethan, who also plays piano.

Ethan’s an avid reader of Percy Jackson and other fiction books, especially those with a series.

“I have something to look forward to when the book’s over,” he said.

He’s not impressed, however, with the “Harry Potter” movies.

“They skip like half the book,” he said sharply.

Both boys are in the top 5 percent of their class of more than 200 seventh graders.

Nathan Mowers, 13, a seventh grader at Coakley Middle School. By Travis Whitehead, Valley Morning Star
Ethan Mowers, 10, a seventh grader at Coakley Middle School. By Travis Whitehead, Valley Morning Star

twhitehead@valleystar.com