Hitting the high notes
Lakeside High graduate Zachary Seresinhe awarded first-ever jazz scholarship at Arkansas Tech University
Zachary Seresinhe, who graduated from Lakeside High School in May, has an appreciation for arts and the music that led to Arkansas Tech University in Russellville offering him the first-ever jazz scholarship in the history of the ATU Department of Music.
If he was going to go to Tech, Seresinhe was already planning to be a member of the school’s band and choir, but he thought it might be too much to add jazz as well if he was not receiving a jazz scholarship. He was told during a percussion audition at Tech that the jazz scholarships had never been awarded despite requests from students.
An impromptu piano piece was convincing enough that Seresinhe was offered a scholarship. He performed a three-hour impromptu piano piece earlier this year for a silent film at the Black Box Theater of the Art Church. He said he is now most excited about the jazz opportunities he will have in Russellville.
“Hot Springs is a very art-filled community, I think, compared to other cities,” Seresinhe said. “When I leave, no matter which city I go to next, it won’t be as welcoming to art. As much as that will be a challenge, I think that will also be part of the fun — trying to bring art into whatever city I am moving into.”
Seresinhe lived in Hot Springs with his mother, Gwen Batchelor; stepfather, Scott Batchelor; younger brother, Randy Seresinhe; younger sister, Isabel Batchelor; and youngest sister, Sophie Batchelor. He finished his last four years of school at Lakeside. He had previously attended schools in the Hot Springs School District.
Seresinhe said he enjoyed music as much as any teenager, but he began to care about music even more in junior high school. He began to feel that he needed to be a music teacher after praying about it with his pastor. He had begun as the worship leader for the youth group earlier and had been playing guitar at church. His pastor suggested he develop that interest.
Computer technology had been a subject that had interested Seresinhe prior to his new interest in music. He was interested in pursuing graphic design and had also thought about becoming a counselor.
“If I became a teacher, not only could I help all of these kids that are having difficulties at home and help them from how stressed they are from schoolwork, but I could also have them have a great time, have something to get away from that home life or all of the stress that school brings you.”
Seresinhe has only been studying jazz specifically for two years. Lakeside jazz band instructor Jay Chapman awarded Seresinhe the Louis Armstrong award in recognition of outstanding achievements in the field of jazz as demonstrated through superior musicianship, character and individual creativity.
Seresinhe also played the lead role of Albert Peterson in the Lakeside musical production of “Bye Bye Birdie.” Seresinhe received the award for best actor in a musical and outstanding senior. He said he will miss Lakeside’s “awesome” school musicals.
The Hot Springs/Hot Springs Village Symphony Guild also awarded Seresinhe a scholarship.
The music teachers and art teachers increased Seresinhe’s desire to become a music teacher. Several directors at Lakeside attended Tech and, according to Seresinhe, other teachers that did not attend ATU still recommend he choose Tech over his second choice, Ouachita Baptist University. He also feels that his art and music teachers were his most caring educators.
“It was so easy for a kid to walk up to a (music or art) teacher and say, ‘I’m having a really bad day. Can I get some advice from you?’”
Seresinhe is also very complimentary of his piano teacher, Barbara Dodson, who has helped to cultivate his jazz interest. He said she could easily adjust to his learning.
“The amount that I learned from her compared to my piano teacher prior to her is completely different,” Seresinhe said. “It wasn’t that I had to go home and practice hours and hours more. She was just that much better of a teacher.”