Hit­ting the high notes

Lake­side High grad­u­ate Zachary Seresinhe awarded first-ever jazz schol­ar­ship at Arkansas Tech Univer­sity

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Class act -

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.”

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