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Eastside band receives Grand Sweepstakes Award

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 For the third time, Music Director Cheri (Greer) Dugger has guided concert band students to the Grand Sweepstakes Award at the Music Showcase Festivals in Ohio.

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     This year’s competition finished on a particularly fine note as Eastside Middle School Concert Band musicians registered judges’ scores 97 and 98, the highest Dugger has ever received in 18 years of attending the festival.

     “I am very proud of this accomplishment,” she said. “I knew that we had a chance at the award this year and was thrilled when notified.”

     Dugger claimed the same honor with Bullitt Lick Middle School students in 2001 and with EMS youth in 2007.

     This year’s competition featured three one-day festivals and a pair of two-day festivals with 20 or so other middle/junior high bands in competition.

     “We did have a great year,” said Dugger applauding her students. “You worked really hard and I am happy for you. Be proud!”

     Ron Simmons, Executive Director of the Music Festivals/Music Showcase Festivals, Music Festivals and Tours, explained the Grand Sweepstakes Award is given to the highest scoring ensemble based on grade level from all of the festivals held at the location that they participated.

     “On behalf of Music Showcase Festivals, it is our sincere pleasure to make this announcement and is truly an honor to present this award to you and your fine organization,” Simmons wrote in an email to Dugger. “The hard work and dedication that you, the director, and every member of the ensemble displayed was exemplary. Your community, parents, and administration should all be proud of your accomplishment. Congratulations to you and your ensemble on earning this prestigious award.”

     He said a special acrylic award should arrive at EMS in September.

     Dugger said students practice and rehearse hard every day and many were not aware of the Grand Sweepstakes Award.

     “I believe they enjoy the final product of making music together and playing to the very best of their ability,” she said. “They wanted to perform at their very best. There is pride in playing your part correctly within the ensemble and knowing that all together you make music and sound great.  Every part is equally important - from the solo part to that single triangle note - every person is a part of the whole ensemble.”

     Choosing to be in music requires that students listen and learn. Dugger said EMS musicians worked very hard this school year.

     “We had lots of intense rehearsals and sectionals both during and after school. Students had to be quiet and focused until rehearsal was over which is difficult for any age. They not only had me correcting and rehearsing them over and over, but they also had Dr. Rick Dugger listening, suggesting, and correcting at the same time,” she said.

     “Their rehearsal behavior was fantastic,” Dugger continued. “They were quiet, focused, patient, cooperative, and willing to play it over and over until we got it right. It was amazing how mature they behaved.”

     Dugger knows band is an elective offering, but she will always motivate each musician to get their maximum.

     “I think participating in band is a means to a higher end,” she said. “I want students to always strive to do the best that they can. They are expected to perform at a high standard which should translate to other aspects of their life.”

     Dugger believes educational strategies taught in music transcend all facets of life.

     “Participation in band is teaching life skills through music,” she said. “Music education teaches team work, self-discipline, steadfastness, patience, leadership skills, and appreciation of the arts and an enjoyment of creating music. I would hope that they continue to play their instrument and/or participate in music in high school or beyond.”

     Each year, Dugger bids farewell to eighth graders most of whom have invested three years in the EMS music program. The parting is bittersweet and she hopes band is in their future.

     “First of all, I want them to stay in band,” she said. “They have just begun to make music. The longer you play your instrument the better you get. The more advanced the music the more fun it is to perform.”

     As middle school youth transition to high school, she hopes students will give it their all - academics, athletics and extracurricular activities.

     “I want them to know what it takes to be successful, that hard work does pay off, and always do your best,” she said. “My father always told us, ‘No matter what you choose to do in life, do it to the best of your ability.  Take pride in what you do.’”

     2012-2013 EMS Concert band members are Brianna Perkins, Caitlin Smith, Courtney Barnes, Eden Smith, Elise Goff, Kerrigan Miller, Kyrsten Blanton, Mikayla Karp, Savanah Fackler, Shelby Roberson and Taylor Denner on flute; Grace Smith on oboe; Abby Guy, Ashley Stewart, Baylee Goldsmith, Bryanna Walhood, Burgundy Maloney, Emily Harned, Grace Wibbels, Kelli Curtsinger, Miranda Whitworth, Rachel Moss and Taylor Montague on clarinet; Melinda Dodson, Robby Smith and Savannah Pierce on bass clarinet; Nick Willey on tuba; Brittany Hopper, Celia Brumbaugh and Cole Laslie on baritone; Brennan Barber, Donovan McGauley, Drew Couch, Dylan Jones and William Davis on alto saxophone; Johnathon Arnold on tenor saxophone; Michael Savino and Xavier DePew on bari-saxophone; Connor Adams, Jared Holt, Jonathon Tegarden, Joshua Grieve, Martin Parrish, Matthew Brown, Morgan Gentry, Paul Rippy, Wyatt Welty and Zachery Combest on trumpet; Emily Yoakum, Madison Emerson and Rachel Escobedo on French Horn; Anthony Stout, Chloe Gray and Rayner Whitworth on trombone and Adam Moore, Ally Wertz, Aly Mutter, Bradley Dotson, Joshua Brown, Justin Johnson, Keaton McFarland and Rachel Carden on percussion.

     Bullitt County Public Schools has over 13,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12. There are 25 school facilities, a certified staff of over 850 and a classified staff of over 850 working every school day to make the district the leader in educational excellence.