Words and Music

Elizabeth Updegrove fills dual leadership roles as the drum major of the Corsicana High School Varsity Band and as the senior editor of the CHS student newspaper: The Jungle Beast Journal (JBJ). Elizabeth, a senior, will also receive a Distinguished Diploma at her upcoming June graduation. With a smile on her face and calm confidence, Elizabeth explained, “I like learning and going to class wondering what I’m going to learn today. High school is a pretty great place run by some pretty great people.”

Directing the band from the 50-yard line during football season has been just one of Elizabeth’s many duties as drum
major. Since last May, Elizabeth has followed the tutelage of Director Michael Williamson by learning to conduct, to keep up with materials and music and to solve problems when emergencies arise. Elizabeth is a musician herself. She has played the clarinet for seven years and has competed successfully in University Interscholastic League (UIL) events in solo and ensemble. She is proudest, however, of the rating that the full band earned last year in sight-reading and performance and in the increased number of band members who made All-Region and All-State bands this year. “They have some great musicians coming up next year. I’m jealous of those others tudents,” Elizabeth said.

Motivated by the photographyand journalism classes she took in her junior year, Elizabeth is turning her lifelong love of reading and writing into more than a hobby by serving as editor of the CHS student newspaper, fondly known for 60 years as the JBJ. Sarah Lentz, journalism teacher and yearbook/newspaper sponsor, said, “We have many great kids at CHS, but the amount Elizabeth takes on and the full effort she gives to everything is amazing.” Not content to be just an editor, Elizabeth also competed individually in UIL editorial writing, taking First Place District Champion, and in feature writing, winning Third Place. As a team member, she placed in the top three and advanced to Regional competition last year. Not resting on her laurels from last year, Elizabeth is competing in all of the above events as well as headline writing during her senior year.

Elizabeth credited all of her former English teachers with giving her the necessary skills to accomplish her dreams in journalism and success in the classroom. However, she was quick to give special credit to CHS English teachers: Teresa Parker, Department Chair, and Elizabeth Talley, AP English teacher and National Honor Society (NHS) sponsor. “They have given me so much more than just writing skills; they have taught me life skills, studying skills and public speaking skills,” Elizabeth stated. The teachers’ pride in Elizabeth is evidenced in Ms. Parker’s comments, “Positive and focused, Elizabeth consistently strives for excellence. Her determination is certainly inspirational to those around her. She always gives her best to the task at hand.”

Acting as secretary of the National Honor Society is another of Elizabeth’s duties and she joins other NHS members in serving the Corsicana community. She volunteered to be a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, prior to Christmas, and
she volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. Spare moments outside of school activities are just as important to Elizabeth, who is a frequent babysitter for her three younger sisters, Anna, Sarah and Grace, and for Ms. Lentz’s two daughters. Elizabeth volunteers in several capacities at First United Methodist Church (UMC) in Corsicana.

Nominated recently as the Senior High Youth Conference Representative of First UMC, Elizabeth has taught in
Vacation Bible School, participated in the Christmas play and has served on mission trips to Louisiana and Missouri. Sundays are especially busy. After church, Elizabeth and Anna commute to Waco to rehearse with the Waco Area Youth Wind Ensemble (WAYWE), an honor orchestra in which Elizabeth plays clarinet. WAYWE is comprised of some of the finest players in the Waco area, who are selected through auditions.

The daughter of Lisa and John Updegrove, Elizabeth proudly credited her parents with her successes. “I’m always going to them for advice. They are both so smart in different ways,” she stated. “My sisters and I are not allowed to watch TV, play on the computer or play the Wii during the school week.”

Some of Elizabeth’s fondest family memories revolve around the summer trips they have taken to visit and hike in national parks. Elizabeth’s mom, Lisa, wrote about her daughter, “Elizabeth has had a very strong sense of self. Watching this young lady evolve is like watching a character in a real life movie, and you can’t wait to see how it turns out.”

Elizabeth is excited about her future that is secured with an acceptance letter from Baylor University accompanied by
the Baylor President’s Gold Scholarship. She plans to major in communication sciences and disorders and become a
speech pathologist or speech therapist.

“I think the world of Elizabeth and have been lucky to have someone of her caliber in my classes,” Ms. Talley said.
Corsicana and Elizabeth’s family are lucky to know this young leader and can proudly wish her well as she continues
her journey of learning.

— Written by Virginia Riddle