April Westbrook discovers harmony with the clarinet

With a shy smile and a sweet, soft laugh, the Canton-Galva High School clarinet player explains why she has maintained a perfect 4.0 continuing through her senior year.

“I’m a perfectionist,” said April Westbrook.

“So that’s probably part of what drives me to keep a 4.0. And I just desire to keep my academics high. I want to be a pharmacist, and I know it’s important to have good grades to do that.”

A member of the band program since sixth grade, Westbrook first considered playing the saxophone, but her asthma doctor cautioned that she might not have enough air flow to handle the instrument. So she picked up the clarinet.

“I still wish I could play the saxophone, because it makes prettier music,” Westbrook said. “But, I enjoy playing the clarinet.”

The clarinet appears to be a popular instrument in the band program led by director Bill Olson. Out of about 35 band students, 11 have chosen that particular reed instrument.

“I thought it was pretty easy to learn how to play it,” Westbrook said. “My sister played the clarinet in middle and high school.”

With an older brother playing trumpet, Westbrook said her two band-seasoned siblings encouraged her to join.

“They both said band was cool,” Westbrook said. “They said, ‘Try it, and you’ll like it.’ And I really do.”

At CGHS, students can participate in concert, marching and pep bands.

An active student, Westbrook’s resume is extensive this year and, as in the past, her numerous activities have precluded her from entering band competitions.

A partial list of her involvements includes being secretary of Future Business Leaders of America, activities director for Students Against Destructive Decisions, senior-class president, vice-president of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, secretary of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, and band secretary.

Honors include Who’s Who Among High School Students, Kansas Honors Scholar, football homecoming candidate and Honors Band.

Among all her activities, Westbrook said her favorites are FBLA, cheerleading and band.

“I guess a lot of those are fun activities,” she said. “But we also work, and we work together.”

The most challenging part of being in band is working with different levels of musical experience.

“Throughout the years, we’ve had many different band teachers, and some taught better than others,” Westbrook said.

“But I’d like to thank Mr. Olson, because he has helped build our band program a lot. It’s been a struggle, especially with the different band teachers. But he’s definitely helped build it and make it a better program.”

Olson had equal praise for his band student.

“April is a wonderful person,” he said. “She is always ready and willing to help others and do what is necessary for the good of the program.”

After graduation, Westbrook plans to attend Emporia State University for two years. The first semester, she’ll be carrying 18 hours. After Emporia, she hopes to attend the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy for four years.

“I’ve always kind of admired that profession because I have asthma and I have to go to a pharmacy a lot for medicine,” Westbrook said. “It seems like a good atmosphere to be in-just helping people.”

But before she leaves CGHS, she makes the most of an opportunity to serve as a leader in the band program with fellow clarinet player Megan Abrahams.

“Sometimes, Megan and I will take all the clarinets and help them with the notes,” Westbrook said.

“I also try to influence them to take their instruments home and practice. And, I try to behave well and set the example for everyone else to follow.”

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