Ashlie Green said she doesn’t consider herself the best student — although she’s now ranked No. 1 in her class — but the Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce disagreed.
She was named Greenbrier’s Student of the Year by the chamber.
“I’m very flattered that I got it. I don’t consider myself the best student, but to be thought of as Student of the Year makes me feel really good,” she said.
The 18-year-old Greenbrier High School senior is passionate about many things — she’s been described as well-rounded — but music ranks at the top.
“I’m very into music, so I’m involved with the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra; I have been for about 2 1/2 years,” she said. Green plays French horn in the orchestra and the high school band.
The orchestra performs once a year with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in Robinson Auditorium in Little Rock and independently at other venues.
She is also the keyboard and piano player at Greenbrier First United Methodist Church.
Green was one of two drum majors in the high school band as well.
“I conduct and keep the band in line, I guess. I’m like a mini band director,” she said. “It’s very fun. The feeling of when I get done with a show — when we finish a show and run the entire thing — it’s never perfect, but it’s good, and that feeling is like no other.
The teenager’s repertoire of instruments, which includes drums, piano, mandolin, guitar and ukulele, said French horn wasn’t her first choice.
“I wanted to play drums. I had a drum set at the house, and I had a piano, and I thought percussion would be my choice. I got my [information sheet] back, and they had assigned me to play French horn. I had put that as my second or third choice. I said, ‘That’s an interesting instrument.’”
Jennifer Church, the head band director at Greenbrier High School, said Green downplays her talent and success.
“She’s just an incredible kid; her academics are through the roof,” Church said. “Earlier in the year, I asked her grades, and at the time, she was ranked first.”
Green said she makes straight A’s and, “as of now,” is ranked No. 1. Graduation is May 19.
Church said being in the Arkansas Youth Symphony is “a big deal; it’s a big audition process.”
And Church said Green made the first band in the all-state high school band competition.
“She made sixth on French horn out of 500,” Church said. “She’s just an incredible kid; she’s a leader for us.”
Although Green received a scholarship to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville to play in the band, she plans to attend Florida State University in Tallahassee. “They’re waiving her out-of-state tuition because of how great she played,” Church said.
The teenager, a daughter of Stephen and Stefani Green, said she has family connections to FSU, and her grandparents, Paul and Judith Green of Houston, Texas, met at FSU, and both graduated from there.
Ashlie Green plans to audition in August for FSU’s band, the Florida State University Marching Chiefs.
“It’s going to be a huge change, but we go to Florida all the time, so I think I’m really going to enjoy it there,” she said.
The teenager said her parents are her biggest inspirations “because they both come from very different backgrounds. My mom had to work for everything she had. She really inspires me. She is the kindest, most selfless person I’ve ever met in my entire life,” Green said.
She said her mother, who grew up in Clarksville, is a homemaker, and her father is a Little Rock firefighter. Green said her dad, whom she described as humble, grew up in Saudi Arabia. His father worked for Aramco, an oil company, and the family lived in Dhahran, one of the Aramco compounds.
Green also has a brother, Erich, who is in the seventh grade.
In addition to her community activities at Greenbrier High School, she also excels in Mathletes and the Computer Science Club.
“I have a good relationship with math, I’d say,” Green said.
No matter what the subject, Green is complimentary of all the teachers she’s had.
“The teachers that Greenbrier has are honestly the best teachers you could possibly have. Every single one of my teachers I’ve ever had has been very passionate about what they do,” she said.
For example, Green said her calculus teacher, Cheryl Winberry, is motivating.
“She loves calculus. It helps keep the students kind of engaged in their class … and helps keep the mood up,” Green said. “Nobody really likes calculus but a handful of people, but to have someone who loves it helps you understand it. You’re not dreading it wholly.”
Then there’s Green’s English teacher, Stephanie Davis.
“My English teacher loves Shakespeare, so learning Shakespeare was one of the best times,” Green said.
Her counselor, Cassie Page, called Green “an all-around good student.”
“She’s so humble, very respectful — anything I ask of her she does. She does it with ‘yes, ma’am,’ ‘no ma’am,’” Page said. “She’s big into band. She loves it and has a heart for it.”
Green is passionate about the environment, too, and her goal is to improve it. She plans to double-major in brass performance and environmental science at Florida State University.
“I’m really passionate about the environment in general,” Green said. ” I want to help educate countries that don’t have the same environmental education the U.S. has, like awareness of how we’re damaging the environment and what we can do to prevent a bigger problem.”
She plans to do that by living in Saudi Arabia and working for Aramco.
“I went to Saudi Arabia earlier this year, and their country is beautiful,” Green said. “It’s a beautiful country, but there’s so much litter everywhere. … They don’t understand that when you throw a plastic water bottle out of your car or out on the street that it’s not going to biodegrade. It’s going to be there forever.”
Green said she saw a lot of water bottles “strewn in the desert.”
Green’s father and grandparents took her to a reunion in Saudi Arabia for her senior trip. They went for a reunion of former Aramco employees.
“Once [oil-company employees] retire, they can’t live in Saudi anymore, so the company sponsors trips to bring back ex-workers,” she said.
“It’s not really what you think over there [for women],” she said. “I saw women driving; I saw women working in stores. I talked to a bunch of men. Even the older ones were involved in activist groups to get women’s rights. Women could drive only last year.”
She said there is a respect between men and women. “Saudi men aren’t going to touch another woman in public,” she said, adding that she did have to “cover up more.”
“When my dad and I were in this store run by a woman, he said, ‘I’m going to have you talk to her so she’s comfortable,’ and she ended up talking to both of us. We made some friends over there,” Green said.
“I really want to work for Aramco. They have a lot of other initiatives — yes, they export a bunch of oil, but they are working on finding a lot of renewable sources of energy,” she said.
Green said the company has several environmental initiatives, including reintroducing near-extinct species into a wildlife sanctuary in the desert called Saudi Arabia’s “empty quarter.”
“We went to a museum. … Oil contributes to the problem, but ultimately, we’re all trying to find other sources of energy,” she said.
Green said she wants to be a part of improving the planet.
Yet she can’t live without music, either.
“I really want to play for a symphony. That’s my biggest, wildest dream — to play for a symphony in Europe.”
It sounds like Green plans to be a student of the world.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.