School News

MHS band director leads program to the nation’s capital


The Manning High School band is not just marching to the beat of its own drum but also marching toward excellence, thanks to the leadership of Jordan Jefferson, the band director who has been instrumental in transforming the program since his arrival in 2017.

Jefferson, who is in the final stages of completing his doctorate, brings a wealth of experience and passion for music education. A native of the Florence/Darlington area, Jefferson’s journey in music began at Mayo High School for Math, Science, and Technology, where he honed his skills as a musician. He pursued his undergraduate degree in music education at Claflin University and later obtained a master’s degree in educational leadership while teaching in Darlington County.

Reflecting on his decision to transition from teaching middle school to high school, Jefferson expressed a desire for a more demanding musical environment. “I wanted to teach high school, [and] a little more challenging music. [There are] more things you could do musically with students. So, I wanted to do that,” he explained.

Upon his arrival at Manning High School, Jefferson inherited a band program in need of revitalization. “The program was your typical program ... trying to recruit students, trying to maintain students,” he recalled. Under his leadership, the program underwent significant changes aimed at building a stronger community among band members and enhancing musical performance.

“The previous band directors did a great job with trying to really hold on to what they had,” Jefferson attests, crediting his predecessors for keeping the program afloat. “When I first came in, I kind of just observed what was being done and then gradually implemented different changes that kind of made the program a little bit better, a little more sustainable,” Jefferson said.

His efforts bore fruit as the band saw remarkable improvements in its performance, particularly in marching band competitions. The program expanded to include the Monarch Jazz Connection

Band and the Symphonic Band, both of which achieved superior ratings in this year’s performance assessments.

The Manning High School band’s success extends beyond musical achievements. Jefferson emphasizes the importance of providing opportunities for all students in Clarendon County, not just the city of Manning.

“We’ve got students on the band from Turbeville and from Summerton. They don’t have music programs at their schools. Now, Scott’s Branch has [recently] hired a band director. And he’s working, but I didn’t want the children at those schools to not have a program or not be able to participate. Every child’s not going to play sports, every child’s not going to be academically strong. And so, you have those children ... we met some really good kids at those schools that wanted to play. We had two students from Scott’s Branch, they marched with us this year and they enjoyed it. They’ve been excellent players. They have come to practice; they have been dedicated. They wore the school mascot. I was laughing. I was like how weird do you feel? You go [to Scott’s Branch], but you’re marching with us. But they don’t care about it. I think they just enjoy music so much.”

To support the band’s upcoming trip to Washington D.C. to march in the National Memorial Day parade, fundraising efforts are underway. Jefferson emphasized accommodating the entire pr gram, regardless of financial constraints. “We want it to be for all the students. We don’t want to exclude anybody.” With a goal of raising around $35,000 to cover expenses for each student, the band has received support from various donors, including the City of Manning, Unity Christian Church, and local Rotary Clubs.

Upcoming fundraising events include the Mr. and Mrs. Golden Pride children’s pageant and the Manning High School Gym Battle, where students from different schools will engage in friendly musical competition.

As the Manning High School band continues to soar to new heights under Mr. Jefferson’s leadership, the community rallies behind its efforts, ensuring that all students have the opportunity to pursue their passion for music and represent their school on a national stage.