Thanks to the successful band program at Yazoo County High School, Justein Jenkins has been awarded a full band scholarship to Mississippi Valley State University.
Jenkins, a 2017 graduate, is the son of Lucy Smith and Willie Johnson. The 19-year-old recently started classes as a Freshman at MVSU along with participating in Band Camp this summer in the percussion corps.
Jenkins is majoring in Music Education and plans to return to Yazoo County as a Band Director or an Assistant Director in the future.
Jenkins began playing the drums at seven years old after watching and learning from certain members at his church.
Jenkins grew up in a family of musical talent with a mother who sang and a father and brother who both played the guitar. Together with his family and his drums, Jenkins enjoys making music and playing songs.
Kimble Funchess, the band director at Yazoo County High School, recounted the day when Jenkins first joined the program.
"Justein was in the eleventh grade when he said that he wanted to be in the Band," said Funchess. "I mentioned to him that the other kids were younger and that he would need to be a leader. That is exactly what he has done."
"With him being in the eleventh grade, I told him that if he worked hard, that by the time he graduated, he could be a candidate for a band scholarship," Funchess continued.
From the time Jenkins joined the band, until the day he graduated, he was a model student.
Funchess said that Jenkins always follow the rules and showed students the proper way to conduct themselves in the music room, as well as showing dedication in practicing and perfecting his skills on each instrument he used.
Jenkins’ hard work enabled him to play in a variety of local events and concerts around the county. He was also able to be a part of the band that played the National Anthem at a New Orleans Pelican's Basketball Game.
Among other recognitions, Jenkins received the Band Award his senior year of high school for his dedication to the program.
"It really made me a better musician now I have shown others that the Yazoo County Band has a lot to offer kids,” Jenkins said. “Mr. Funchess showed me that I can express my love for music in band. Now people can see that band can take you places."
Jenkins was able to get an audition at Mississippi Valley thanks to Mr. Funchess' connections with various band directors across the state.
"I had to play my own piece,” Jenkins said. “I had to know the basic rudiments of the drums. They called me first, and then sent me a scholarship letter. It felt great to know that it was my own skills which got me into college, with me being the youngest person in my family to go to college."
Jenkins’ advice to his band members and other students who love music is "stay positive and stay humble and keep working on your craft so you can be a better musician."
Funchess is excited to see what the new school year may hold, with two rising seniors in the Band starting this fall in Yazoo County.
"This is a big deal for us because it shows that band can lead kids to college,” he said.