A possible record number of Zachary High seniors signed scholarships Friday in the school’s band room on campus.
The parents and families of 10 ZHS Band of Blue students and one guitar player, along with band director Jason Venable, assistant band director Donny Alexander, Principal Joe LeBlanc and friends and fellow band members watched as the 11 seniors signed music scholarships to seven Louisiana universities on April 29.
Though senior Jessee Yantis is not a member of the band, she received a guitar ensemble scholarship and was invited to join the other music-making teens at the ceremony.
“We were happy to have her sign with the group,” Venable said.
The excitement of the event was magnified by senior Taylor Law, who, though he is battling Burkitt’s lymphoma, was well enough to attend the ceremony to sign his scholarship awards to Loyola University, something that’s been a dream of his for a long time.
“Sorry if I don’t stand up to speak,” Law said, a trombone and bass player. “But I’m very grateful to have this opportunity.”
Joining Law in signing was his twin sister, LeeAnn Law, who plays the flute and inked a deal with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The siblings also play music in their family’s zydeco band.
Additional signees include: Amanda Billeaudeau, clarinet, Northwestern State University; Brittany Brown, clarinet, Northwestern State; Mary Grace Ellerbee, piano, LSU; Josh Ferdinand, trumpet, Southern University; Ciara Gibbs, percussion, Northwestern State; Ryan Schaefer, trumpet, Louisiana Tech; Kelsey Schwendimann, clarinet and oboe; Louisiana Tech; Caitlyn “Cat” Thibodaux, clarinet, Northwestern State; and Yantis, guitar, Southeastern University.
Venable said many of the seniors received several scholarship awards.
“You know, this is the best group of young people and members of the best senior class I’ve come across in my 38 years of doing this,” said an emotional LeBlanc. “Our goal is to put successful young people out into the workforce and into the community, and I think we’re doing that.”
LeBlanc had a surprise in store at the conclusion of the ceremony, when he introduced seniors Vanessa Hoffman and Shelby Waddell, friends of Taylor, who presented a check for $4,100 to the Law family to help with medical expenses.
“They came to me and asked if they could start raising funds for Taylor, and as I always do, I asked two things of the students: ‘Will it hurt anyone? Will it help anyone?’ ” LeBlanc said. “This one was a no-brainer.”
Hoffman and Waddell, both members of the Honor Society, have been hosting bake sales during school lunch hours and encouraging other student clubs to do the same.
Christine Law, LeeAnn and Taylor’s mother, thanked the girls, and everyone in attendance for the help and support through fundraisers held for her son.
“Music is a huge thing in our family, and I’m grateful to everyone,” she said.