WJCC students recognized for making All-State teams

Eleven Williamsburg-James City County students were recognized by the School Board at their Dec. 13 meeting for making Virginia High School League All-State teams.

"We're proud of our students' athletic, academic and artistic achievements," Cook said Thursday. "We're pleased to be able to recognize them at our meetings."

From Lafayette High School, Amara Bland-Haynes and Blayne Jones were recognized along with Rylan Haggerty from Warhill High School for making the All-State Cheerleading Team. Also from Lafayette, Jacob Smethurst and Konrad Steck stepped up to receive awards. Smethurst made the All-State Golf Team.

Steck made the All-State Cross Country Team along with Warhill student Spencer Conti. Fellow Warhill Lions Ashton Otey and Chrisanthi Prassas were named to the All-State Field Hockey Team.

Also recognized were four players from Warhill's volleyball team before the Warhill Honor's Choir performed. Cori Clifton, Alexis Pollard, Jewel Walters and Chloe Wilmoth were named to the All-State Volleyball Team. Clifton is also the All-State Player of the Year.

Earlier in the fall, four WJCC students also made the All-Virginia Jazz Ensemble: three from Jamestown High School and one from Lafayette.

Jamestown High School Band director Steve Turner said the division usually has one or two students make one of the two 19-player Jazz Ensembles each year. The groups are differentiated by talent, the top players in the state make up one ensemble and the runners up make up the second.

"We're very fortunate to have that kind of talent here in Williamsburg and James City County," Turner said. "There are lots of places that would love to have it happen once in ten years, and here we have it happen every year."

Lafayette senior Jesse Katz was named the best bassist in the state. From Jamestown, junior Andrew Shield was named top guitarist while senior Nick Geer came in second in drums. Jamestown Freshman Tyler Ende came on on top for the Vibes, a melodic percussion instrument akin to the xylophone.

This is the second year Geer made the ensemble. Last year he was in the runner-up group and this year he was included in the top ensemble. Geer said being in the top group was more intense.

"It really shows the hard work that I put into the audition, because it's really comprehensive," Geer said. "It showed that working hard really pays off, and you can improve, as I did."

In November, members of the All-Virginia Jazz Ensemble spent two days with Virginia Commonwealth University's Director of Jazz Studies Antonio Garcia and saxophonist Jeff Coffin, a member of the Dave Matthews Band during the Music Educators Conference, Turner said. The ensemble then performed on the last day.

Turner said the musicians are now looking toward the spring, when auditions for the All-Virginia Concert Band roll around.

Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.

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