McCall, Ward sign ASU music scholarships

Published 5:32 pm Friday, April 7, 2017

A pair of Greenville High School seniors are leaving the school on a high note.

Ashanti Ward, senior clarinet player and member of the color guard, and senior saxophone player Jalisa McCall both signed music scholarships to attend Alabama State University Friday at the GHS auditorium.

It was familiar scenery for GHS band director Brett Johnson, who saw three students do the same last April, in addition to two others who went to the University of Alabama and UAB.

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Johnson said that it was nice to happen once, but making it a trend was incredibly rewarding.

“It’s exciting—it really is,” Johnson said. “Especially when you have these community members take note, and they see what’s going on with the band and that elevates the program.

“The band is growing now, and I think maybe that’s a part of it.  They’re seeing the success that’s happening past high school band, and kids are interested in coming into the band knowing that could be a possibility for them in the future.  So it’s a win-win; it’s good for the kids and not only the band, but it makes the school look good, too, going off to these big universities from Greenville.”

Both Ward and McCall have been a part of Greenville’s band programs since fifth grade.  In that time, they’ve become irreplaceable role players for Johnson and their peers.

“They’re going to be vitally missed, that’s for sure,” Johnson added. “Ashanti was a clarinet player in the band, and the first year I came she decided to try out for color guard for the marching band.  And she still plays clarinet in concert band, and quickly was very successful and became color guard captain.  So her leadership in making sure the color guard side of it ran smoothly was flawless.

“And the same goes for Jalisa, too. She’s a part of the jazz ensemble at our school, the marching band and the concert band.  And she was also in a leadership position during her senior year as the saxophone section leader.

“I always tell them to make sure that you leave something behind so that when you go someone can jump back into your place.  And they’ve done so well with building their sections and we’ll have some people to jump into their spots, but it won’t be the same compared to what they’ve done.  They’re going to be greatly missed.

For Ward, tackling an increasing number of responsibilities was a means of self-improvement.

“I had multiple talents, so I tried to take on another role to challenge myself,” she said.

“And then, when my band director told me that I had to do the part of our drum major while he did the moonwalk during our field show, that was another challenge, but it was a great experience to do all of it.”

McCall said that she would miss many aspects of her eight-year journey in band thus far, but it was the people she met along the way that left the greatest impression.

“I’ll miss the jazz band and all of the band students, because I’ve been through it all with them,” McCall said. “And I don’t think I can make new friends like I did with them.”

Though both will miss the lives they led as members of the Tiger Pride, they both insist that there is much to look forward to.

“What I’m looking forward to is learning new music with [ASU band director] Dr. Reeves, and just seeing his music and what he has to offer us,” Ward said.

“I’m looking forward to experiencing new environments and different types of music I’ve never played before,” McCall added.