With no instrumental music education prior to that, Barrett is now the best saxophone player in the state of Kansas. And, thanks to an $8,000 Moyer Brother Scholarship presented Tuesday night at the Abilene High School Achievement Banquet, he can pursue his dream of being a professional musician and teacher with a few less worries.
In sixth grade he started playing the alto saxophone. It didn’t take long for the young Barrett to decide what he wanted to do with his life.
Next fall he will enroll in the University of Kansas and pursue a bachelor degree in music.
“My intentions are to go to grad school and to play professionally and teach at the college level,” he said. “Those go hand in hand.”
Abilene band teacher Aaron Tompkins expects great things out of the Abilene High School senior.
“I’m curious to see what he does,” Tompkins said. “I don’t know if everyone in main stream America will hear of him but he is going to do big things.
“He’s the best student I’ve ever had,” he said. “Sad to say, he’s the best one that I ever will have. He is extremely rare.”
Barrett attributes his success in music to his drive and his instructors.
“Ever since I started in sixth grade I’ve always wanted to play,” he said. “My instructors have also been a tremendous help to me. Mr. (Toby) Weishaar helped me start out but Mr. (Aaron) Tompkins was the one that really helped me through all of this.
“He knows a lot more than the average band director,” he said of Tompkins. “Pure knowledge. He is tremendously qualified.”
Barrett’s specialty is the alto saxophone but he also plays trombone for the pep band and has taken piano lessons.
After receiving the scholarship Barrett said the award “means a lot.”
“Without these opportunities, attending college would be an extreme financial burden,” he said after the banquet. “I’m really happy. I know that I have these opportunities. Student loans would have been the next step.”
Introducing Barrett as one of the many outstanding seniors at Abilene, Tompkins highlighted some of his accomplishments.
“He has gotten a one rating at the state level on a solo all four years in high school,” he said. “He’s gotten a one rating in a saxophone quartet at the state level in high school. His biggest achievement is making the state jazz band.
“You have to make the North Central District Jazz Band first,” he said. “There are six districts in Kansas. He made that as a freshman. He was the first chair as a freshman and they can’t try out for state as a freshman but sophomore, junior and senior year he made the state jazz ensemble. There are only 17 kids in that group. He was the lead alto two of three years. Very rarely do 4A kids make that group. Everyone in the state competes and it’s usually kids from 6A schools. He received a three-year medal for that. That’s a big accomplishment.”
Barrett is the son of Kristine Kiser and Fred Barrett. He was also a member of the National Honor Society.
The Moyer Brothers, Arthur and Henry, were farmers near Chapman who never made it past eighth grade, said Robert H. Royer, Jr., trustee of the scholarship.
“They wanted to leave something behind for students wanting to attend college,” he said. A scholarship of $8,000 is presented to seniors graduating from both Abilene and Chapman high schools.
Royer also presented two $4,000 Donald M. Stewart Scholarships. The endowment awarded two scholarships to Dickinson County students attending the University of Kansas in the health-related field and two $3,000 scholarships to county graduates attending KU.
Abilene seniors receiving the scholarships were Shelby Parks, daughter of Chad Parks and Jen Parks, who will be majoring in bio-engineering, and Presley Hasselman, daughter of Gary Hasselman and Lori Hasselman, who plans to become a counseling psychologist.
Other scholarship recipients were Samantha Jansen and Abbey Bauman, both Chapman graduates.
Also Tuesday night, Abilene High School students displayed works of art, projects, quilts and a senior video was featured.
Many other scholarships were also announced that night.
“It seems like just yesterday I was just at eighth grade graduation,” said student council president Kelsey Lacy. ‘I can’t name all of the things we have accomplished because it would take all day.”
Abilene freshman Jordan Luty gave a his forensics performance of “Countdown to Love.”