Watching Kerrington Freeman conduct the marching band, it’s obvious that she’s a natural leader. She says she didn’t realize she had that quality until she became the drum major at Barbara Goleman Senior High School in Miami Lakes.
“It showed me leadership skills and it shows me that people are going to follow me if I set the example, people are going to follow what I do,” said the senior, who goes by Kerri.
The band director says his star student took charge of the group’s halftime show, she helps other kids learn their parts, and in the process, earned everyone’s admiration.
“There’s a saying, find the great people and stay close to them, and I believe that a lot of kids see greatness in her and they stay close to her because of that,” said Zackery Chambers, the band director.
Kerri attracts friends like a magnet, encouraging them to follow her extroverted lead.
“She just brought that out of me and I feel like without her I would be very, like, a snail, I would be just in my shell, you know?” said bandmate and fellow clarinet player, Kathleen Bodden.
“And she’s always there,” added another bandmate, Justin Landrove. “She’s always wanting to help others, take them step by step, take ‘em by the hand, guide them, and so I think a lot of people appreciate what she does.”
Justin is correct, and the students also appreciate him. Justin was voted Homecoming King, and the student body chose Kerri as Homecoming Queen, putting her into the spotlight even more than being drum major.
“A lot of recognition around school, a lot of popularity, a lot of people know who I am, a lot of people who I don’t even know, know who I am, but it’s a really nice thing,” Kerri said.
It’s one thing to be popular, it’s another to use that popularity to influence your peers, especially the younger ones, in the right way. Kerri does that through her involvement with the Health Information Project, speaking to schoolmates about mental health, sexual education, and peer pressure.
“They say, OK, I’m gonna listen to her, she commands respect, so I say OK, I think you should listen to me because these are important topics,” Kerri explained.
Her friends will tell you Kerrington is a whirlwind of enthusiasm and energy. She’s the reigning, “Miss American Teen,” a national pageant title. Kerri started a service project called Scars to Stars, an effort devoted to improving the self-esteem of kids who have physical or emotional scars.
“And I help encourage younger kids and people my age that you’re beautiful in the skin that you’re in, you don’t have to let anybody tell you otherwise and don’t let yourself think that about yourself because, you’re beautiful,” Kerri emphasized.
It’s a beautiful message from someone who makes beautiful music.