By Lauren E. Prince
Wessendorff Middle School
On March 31, 2012, Wessendorff Middle School hosted a student band competition involving all area middle schools. Band students were evaluated on their musical ability in both solo and ensemble performances. Wertheimer students performed well and our school emerged as the overall school winner! On the Monday morning after the weekend of the competition, everyone could feel the excitement in the air as winners proudly wore their medals and were recognized via the morning announcements. Congratulations to all of the following students who medaled at the competition.
Earning one medal each was: Alexis Scott, Harrison Moss, John Oloyede, and Patrick Daniels.
Earning two medals each were: Tanisha Debose, Layla Riley, Cielo Martinez, Amaya Turner, Dashun Rhodes, Tyler Brandt, Kassidy Searles, Michael Rodriguez, Alexandra Silver, Alicia Banse, Skylar Stuckett, Ezekiel Awe, Mickey Macarubbo, Eric Saavedra, Corey Bonton, Ryan Kitto, Cameron Taylor, Jose Esquivel, Patrick Rosier, Xavier Davis, William Tedder, Kynsley Thornton, Tiana Venson, Annalise Mejia, Jackie Ojo, and Albapilar Medina.
Earning three medals each were: Isaiah Thomas, Jarrett Douthitt, Alec Sanchez, Shareef Abboushi, Kyle Fiedler, Winner Assi, Kenneth Gathogo, Zion Savage, Leah Burrhus, Lina Al-Yousef, Blake Barber, Sean Pratt, Marshall Gilliam, Mariam Akacha, Caroline Billings, Chloe Tovar, Megan Buena, Allison Cambric, Mikayla Leiendecker, Danny King, Nicholas Lerma, Albert Mejia, Sandie Garcia, Annastasia Lamza, Nancy Bachir, Haley Youngboold, Anna Yang, Natalie Bachir, Leslie Platas, Madison Lahodny, Rebekah Eicke, Sarah Maher, Carolina Couch, Maygen Martinez, William Koelzer, Robert Kughen, Giavanna Eusebio, Kim Pagtama, Sofia Lumbo, Anna Miller, John Bickett, Chase Theard, John Paul Rebeles, Preston Tollett, Dryden Garcia, Donovan Einkauf, Jeremy John Rebeles, Natalie Oettli, John Patrick Bailey, Carter Davis, Jared Olson, Jan Tee, Joshua Lacount, Sean Richard, Salvatore Quaid, Lance Krenek, Hanna Brock, Lauren Simmons, Ericson Onyewuenyi, Joshua Fruge, Jordan Mcgraw, Alyssa Ngo, Selena Flot, Mason Hendry, and Blake Joseph. Mrs. Jeanne Miller, the band teacher, was proud to report that the total medal count for Wertheimer Middle School was 247 medals. We apparently have many talented musicians at WMS, and I was excited to have had the opportunity to speak with Mrs. Miller as well as a few of the students who were recognized.
Mrs. Miller is the band teacher at Wertheimer and also teaches part-time at Briscoe Junior High. She puts a lot of work into making her band students successful. I asked her to share about the process of preparing her students to compete in a solo contest such as this. She responded by saying, “I pass out the level appropriate music to each student when we come back from Christmas vacation. We go over the music in class in groups and … individually and [I] help them where they are having problems. As we get closer to the contest they begin to play for each other and the class in preparation to play before [the judges].”
Mrs. Miller also spoke of preparing for ensemble competition differently, saying that “they prepare these almost completely by themselves. I listen to them just before the contest to evaluate if they are in good enough shape to attend competition. These are also played before the class in preparation for contest.” From what I can tell, Mrs. Miller’s preparation method was a success! She concluded by acknowledging, “Each group of students is different, and this group did an exceptional job of preparing for the competition. I am very proud of all of them.” She deserves to be proud because the above list of winners was lengthy and they all of her students were victorious!
Although many students competed in the Solo & Ensemble Contest, I was pleased that I was able to speak with Annalise Mejia, Jarrett Douthitt, and Marshall Gilliam about preparing for and competing in a district-level competition. Each of the students competed in both the solo and ensemble categories and I learned a great deal from talking to them.
Annalise plays the drums and received two medals in competition. I was interested to hear about her experience and how she felt about it. When asked why she chose to be a part of band she said that the reason was that her brother was in it and she thought she should keep up the tradition. She told me she practices often and works hard to perfect her skills. Annalise also mentioned how important Mrs. Miller’s instruction has been to her learning. “[She] helped us a lot actually. She helped us with the notes and the rhythm.” She also admitted to feeling a mixture of emotions prior to the competition. “I was nervous, excited, [but overall] felt prepared.”
Jarrett plays trumpet and won three medals. He shared with me why he chose to be a part of the WMS band. “I just wanted to change things up instead of doing art [like before].” He also spoke of how he carefully balanced his practice time telling me that he practiced “not too much, but also not too little”. This strategy was used so that he would be perfectly prepared come competition time. Jarrett also shared Mrs. Miller’s contribution to his success, claiming “she helped us by getting rhythm right.” All of this careful, hard work added to his preparedness and his achievement.
Marshall also plays the trumpet and he was eager to share with me how he felt about winning three medals. “I had a friend a long time ago that was one year older than me and was in band and [then] he got into honors band. I was just wondering, ‘Why can’t I do that too?’” Marshall has proven that he has what it takes! When asked how he prepared right before the start of the competition he told me, “I went to the cafeteria and got my lips ready.” Marshall also credited Mrs. Miller for helping him succeed. “When we got something wrong she wouldn’t just say ‘Oh, we’ll fix it later.’ She wants us to do it now and do it before we leave.”
After I talked to those involved, I better understood all of the hard work that lead to the success of Wertheimer’s band at the recent competition. It is very clear to me that each of the students earned the honors that they received and deserve to be champions!