Newspaper Archive of
The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
August 15, 2018     The Monroe County Reporter
PAGE 51     (51 of 56 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 51     (51 of 56 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
August 15, 2018

Newspaper Archive of The Monroe County Reporter produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2021. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

M August l5, 20l8 Julian-lire -i.m._ -miwiiiiiir MARY PERSONS 2018-I9 VARSITY MARCHING BAND AND AUXILIARY ( MP Band taking By Richard Dumas lorsyth©mymcmet Mary Persons’ fans are going to have to remind themselves they’re not in Kansas anymore during MP football halftimes this season. For its 2018 halftime show, the Mary Persons Bulldog Brigade marching band will be presenting a parody of “The Wizard of Oz”, except for the caveat that the show will feature unconventional music. Among the popular songs to be performed are “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath to introduce the Tin Man, “Roar” by Katy Perry to introduce the Cowardly - Lion, “Fix You” by Coldplay to introduce the Scarecrow and “Bad” by Michael lack— son to present the Wicked Witch of the West. Sixth—year MP band direc- tor Eric Thompson said he thinks it’s a “cool show” that will delight judges and football fans alike. “It lends itself really well to being competitive yet being very entertaining,” Thompson said of this year’s show. Every year we always find it very challenging that we want to make sure that we’re not just a competi— tive marching band but our primary focus is to make sure that we’re entertaining people. So we have to juggle between those two things, and I think this year people are going to really enjoy see— ing how we do that. And the kids are performing great. I think it’s probably one of our strongest groups yet.” Thompson said the talent in his MP band has contin- ued to increase each year, which he said is evidence of the quality instruction being done at the elementary and middle school levels. “Usually at this point by the first game we have about the first two songs ready,” Thompson said. “This year we’ll have four done. So we’re literally moving twice as fast as we have in the past, and a lot of that has to do with the average musi— cal ability of the student has increased significantly. The students are showing their abilities of reading music and reading the drill. Their attention to detail has just , been significantly better this year than it has in thepast.” Thompson said his 11 se- niors, seven in the band and four on the auxiliary team, are emblematic of the skills and character that members of the 2018 Squad exhibit. -¢i-er::’sis~lglul!" ‘ifillflmuiu‘l-l Among these seniors are two musicians, horn player Zach Watts and flutist Rilyn McKallip who were named all-state performers as juniors. “Our seniors are just a really special group of kids, and they were big propo- nents of our culture change that our program had over the last six years,” Thomp- son said. “They’re just such smart kids that they realize that we were able to be a great marching band while still having a really positive and family culture. And I mean those seniors are some of the smartest kids in the school, potential valedictorian, salutatorian, S.T.A.R. students. Probably some day they’re going to be doctors and lawyers, even professional musicians. They’re just really inspiring.” Thompson said MP’s new block scheduling is expected to give him more time to work with the band, particularly in teaching more musical enrichment than in previous years, a factor that should aid MP’s younger talents in becom- ing top performers as well. “It’s not just about learning how to play your instru- ment but diving a little bit deeper into music and how it’s evolved and how it’s a part of our society,” Thomp- son said. “I think through that we’re going to see even more growth from our program. And it’s already really taken off over the years. This past year when we were competing against other schools, we domi- nated our district in terms of students who placed in the top three chairs.” Among the statistics Thompson cited to show MP’s growing band excel— lence was that 2017—18 was the first year that every ensemble, including middle school, high school, solo en— semble and marching band, received superior ratings at statewide competition. MP also had 16 students make District Honor Band, the most in program history, 12 students made Region Honor Band, and then three (McKallip, Potts and tuba player Grant Pixley) quali- fied for the All-State Band. Thompson credited Monroe County Schools administrators for the band’s success by their plac~ ing an importance on fine arts as exemplified by the 2017 opening of the new Fine Arts Center. Thompson said of system leaders: “They really under- } .. Photo/Richard Dumas) BULLDOG BRIGADE DRUM MAJORS: Pictured from left Reporter __ i sign-nun... "t! It’i’w’m” to right: Bailey Nibletf and Katie Thomason. stand that when music is a focus, it helps the whole school. Our school system just proved recently that we test better than a majority of the schools in Georgia. I think that’s because we develop a well-rounded kid here. It’s not just about aca— demics. It’s not just about athletics. It’s about the arts. It’s about everything. We want to make sure that each child has a well-rounded education. And that takes great leadership.” The chief student leaders in the 2018 band are drum majors Bailey Niblett and Katie Thomason. Niblett was also a drum major a year ago while Thomason ZA- [lane a 9. DA- ErLL great senior I(DID(B'QJ(DII. Mom. Dad. and. Zarylu’ replaces the graduated Miles Johnson. Thompson said of his drum majors: “They’re just two exceptional kids. They’re extremely great at playing their instruments (Thomason plays the flute while Niblett plays the trombone). They’re ex- tremely smart, incredibly ftuiny and extremely hard working. And we’re excited about them being essen— tially the face of the band program because we know that they will do whatever is necessary to help out the other kids in the band and try to make the band the best that it can be.” Thompson said MP’s con— year Zada! tinued band success hasn’t happened by accident. He said his band members work hard, spending weeks of their summer practicing and often showing up on Saturdays even during the school year. “Next time you see some- one who is in the marching band, give them a high five and tell them they’re doing a great job,” Thompson urged MP fans. “Know that when you see that halftime show that’s only 10 minutes long, we’re talking about hun- dreds of hours that go into that little lO—minute long segment. From planning to rehearsing the music to rehearsing the drill, these kids are out there sweating in the 102 degree heat just like the football team in a lot of regards. They’re out there practicing three days a week doing three weeks of band camp. There’s just so much time that goes into it, so any little bit of encouragement only helps our kids and our band programs.” Thompson said one big positive change this year is the addition of Miles Benson as Monroe County Middle School band direc— tor. Benson, a Monroe County native, has a wide background of musi- cal experience, formerly serving as Tattnall’s band director while also being active in several local bands and leading the choir at Mt. Zion Methodist Church. Thompson said of Ben— son: “He’s a great musician, but I think the thing though that’s going to serve him really well here is that Mr. Benson just has a really great personality, a sense of humor, and 1 think he’s going to connect to the kids on a really personal fans to Land of Oz in ’18 level that will help inspire them to continue to pursue music.” Also assisting Thompson in 2018— 18 are longtime auxiliary instructor Vicky Sykes, returning assistants Stephen Braswell and John Brainard and staff newcom— er Amy Edwards. Thompson said the effec~ tiveness of his staff makes his job a lot more enjoyable now than it was when he ' first started at MP. ULI JENKIS Thompson said, “I would say that last year was my first year of truly having fun being a band director. . . You have to wear many caps. You have to be a big brother to some of the kids. Sometimes you have to give them fatherly advice. Sometimes you might have to help someone with their car. Sometimes you might need to become a therapist. And actually the small- est portion of the job is teaching music. Now that we’ve got things rocking at the elementary school and middle school, we have built this culture of working hard and getting satisfaction out of the process, and it’s not all about results, it’s about enjoying the process, I have found it more fun from my end because I don’t have to worry about students not understanding what we do. They already get to me at the high school, and they already understand what my expectations are going to be.” MP will compete in judged marching band competitions on Saturday, Sept. 22 and Saturday, Oct. 6, but Thompson said the locations have yet to be determined. . HAVE A GREAT .tItXIfllth’ SEASON. w. in: so PROUD or YOU! Love, Daddy, Mama 8. Ryan >tiirvt lull ‘3, gigs r’£.7.v.x::«.;...i pl farms .._.; Hiéé’a tit-llamatflsntnxaugnfls.4us3anun: ..A;i_.. \ai atllflc-nl-lxa