Madi’s melody

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Madi’s melody

Charlotte Heinrich, features writer

“Everything’s bigger in Texas,” Madi Janysek, senior, said. “I’ll keep telling you that until the day I die.”

Janysek is no stranger to the Lone Star state, the place she still calls her home. Native to Arizona, Janysek moved to New York, San Antonio, Austin, Rhode Island and back to Austin, before landing in Kirkwood in January 2017. Through all of her moves, she has kept one item in her suitcase: a clarinet.

“My sister played in orchestra, and I remember going to her concerts,” Janysek said. “I [thought] ‘I don’t want to be a part of orchestra,’ because I just remember the screeching sounds [from] the strings of middle schoolers. But then I heard a flute.”

One thing that is bigger in Texas are the school bands, Janysek said. The band of Rouse High School, where Janysek attended high school for the first semester of the 2016-17 school year, has around 400 members, and had an even larger following than the football team. Practices were held one hour before school each morning and spending weekends at band competitions were typical, according to Janysek. The
high-energy Texas atmosphere described by Janysek could not differ more from the 60-member band of Rhode Island.

“In Rhode Island, it seemed that there was a dark cloud over some people,” Janysek said. “I think part of that had to do with the atmosphere. There was no band at the football games, [and] we [rarely] had competitions. And if we did, it was [only one competition] every year.”

Her final move to Kirkwood was no surprise to her. It marked her third out-of-state move in high school. However, she did surprise many people at KHS with her music skills, according to Band Director Jeff Melsha.

“It was a dream [come true] that we had someone who was very musically talented and who could play a very difficult instrument, the E-flat Contra-Alto bass clarinet,” Melsha said. “It was shortly after [her band audition] that she expressed an interest in being a drum major for the marching band. That’s very rare, to move, and in your first semester, already be interested in taking on the highest leadership position that the band has.”

Excellence in music, and the leadership qualities she exhibited earned her a spot as one of the four drum majors for marching band, according to Melsha. In the fall, she led approximately 250 students on the field, including her boyfriend Tommy Epling, senior.

“She had never been to a Kirkwood football game before, so it’s not like she knew what was going on,” Epling said. “She messed up one of the first games we did [during the Star-Spangled Banner]. I gave her a bit of a hard time for it because I thought it was hilarious.”

Janysek had started the song before directing the band to raise their instruments. The minor mistake was quickly brushed off by Melsha, and later Janysek. It served as a humbling moment and redirection of her focus, according to Janysek.

“[After] that, I started enjoying being more of a leader,” Janysek said. “I began focusing on the things I could control and embracing the things I couldn’t. [Being a drum major was] one of the most challenging, but most rewarding experience I’ve ever had in high school.”

This attitude of letting go and trying her best has shaped her development and that of others around her. Along with taking several rigorous courses such as AP Physics and AP Psychology, she also cadets for an Algebra 1 class and tutors an underclassman at KHS. Janysek said she has formed a particularly sweet bond with the freshman girl she has been tutoring since the beginning of the school year.

“I continually tell her to not talk down to herself, but to walk into a test and be confident in herself, her abilities and what she has learned,” Janysek said. “Your job as a teacher is not only to explain things, but to explain them differently so that [each] specific student can understand. It is so rewarding to see her [succeed and grow].”

“Texas hasn’t been where I found myself, but it’s where I always want to go back to.”

Janysek will continue studying math at The University of Texas at Austin as a Longhorn with hopes of becoming a teacher, an actuarial scientist or financial professional. After all of her moves, she looks forward to returning home to Texas.

“She does a lot of volunteer work [and] she’s involved with lots of different things,” Melsha said. “But she carves out time for everything, and doesn’t sacrifice one thing for another. She has set herself up at a young age to be extremely successful in college.”

Janysek has added many friends and lessons to her suitcase through all of her moves. Yet, one thing hasn’t changed: her home.

“The first time I moved it was really hard, but I think every time I’ve moved it’s become a little bit easier,” Janysek said. “[Band has] also helped me through all of my moves. It’s just like a big family no matter where I went.”

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