ALTON - It has been busy this school year for Johnathon Ridgley leading a large group of students in the Alton March 100 while also putting in his personal time working on a tribute to one of his late friends.

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Johnathon Ridgley, the Alton Marching 100 Head Drum Major.Johnathon is the Art Fahrner-Edward Jones Remarkable Redbird of the Month. Johnathon is currently working on his Eagle Scout project named Ariana's Memorial Garden and it is currently on display at Upper Alton Baptist Church. He saw that this particular spot was neglected during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and he has worked to take out the old landscaping and to put down new soil and plants.

He is waiting on a crafted memorial bench in honor of his friend Ariana Scoggins who passed away in February 2021. Johnathon mentioned that this area meant a lot to Ariana, and he wanted to honor her memory by beautifying this area.

Johnathan worked to fundraise the necessary $3,000 needed to get all of the materials needed for the project and while he has not yet fully achieved his goal of raising the total amount, he feels that he is on his way to getting to his goal. He worked closely with Pastor Brad Donoho and the church's executive board to come together on his project.

Johnathon is currently the Head Drum Major for the Alton High School Marching 100. Prior to becoming the Head Drum Major, he served as a Drum Major during his Junior year. For those interested in being a Head Drum Major, auditions are held in January and applicants are expected to learn patterns and time signatures while auditioning in front of decision makers for the team. Two of the songs that are expected to be performed are the National Anthem and also the Alton High fight song. Applicants are also expected to have an interview to evaluate their character and also to attend about a month of clinics to better prepare them for the auditions.

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The Head Drum Major starts each show and is the lead conductor. They are expected to be a leader and mentor for other members of the team, giving guidance to new members, doing odd jobs, and also working with the Director to help set up of things behind the scenes. Johnathon also works closely with the Director to go over the choreography for each song with the band members. At a recent competition at Eastern Illinois University, the Marching 100 won a caption award which combines best music, best percussion, and general effect. Johnathan also looks forward to the end of the year competition that is held at the America's Center in downtown St. Louis where over one hundred bands from high schools as far away as Michigan and Oklahoma will participate.

Johnathon also plays in the top ensembles in the school as he plays in the concert setting in the wind ensemble and also symphonic orchestra in the string ensemble. He is also happy to carry on the family connection to Marching 100 as his mother Jackie Ridgley was in the color guard and his uncle Andrew Cole played saxophone during their time as Redbirds at Alton High.

Johnathon's future plans are to attend a four-year university and major in Political Science. He wishes to either get into law or to be an educator in political science or history.

Click here to view the Art Fahrner-Edward Jones Facebook page.

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