KINGMAN - A group of middle school band and choir students will get a chance in May to play their trumpets, flutes, tubas, French horns, saxophones, clarinets- and even sing - as part of a regional honors event.
"This is a big deal," said David McConnehey, band teacher at White Cliffs Middle School. "This is an opportunity for them to be showcased with other regional students. They are the best in their age group in this area and I'm super-excited for them. They are great kids and I'm very proud of them."
A total of six students from WCMS and 10 students from Kingman Middle School will be performing in the Northern Arizona Middle School Regional Honor Band, Orchestra and Choir Festival. It will take place May 2-3 at Prescott High School in Prescott.
McConnehey brought 20 students and Julie Gragg, KMS band director, brought 21 students to auditions March 1 in Prescott for the event. Those students were required to read music from sight, play and sing scales and perform musical exercises during the all-day event for northern Arizona students.
"This is a big honor," said Gragg. "It recognizes their time, effort, dedication and striving for precision and technical accuracy. They have to be spot on when they are auditioning, and they were. They scored very high. It's nice to be with kids who want to excel and try to achieve."
Two WCMS students, Ireland Quick, 12, a sixth-grader, and Bryanna Camacho, 14, an eighth-grader, will represent the district as members of the choir. Quick is an alto and Camacho is a soprano, and this is the first year for both of the students to participate.
"I'm pretty excited," said Quick. "I've been singing since I was 5 years old, and I know I flourished in all my years of singing and performing in concerts and plays. Singing makes me feel like there's no one else around. I think this event will give me more practice, and I'm not nervous at all."
Ethan Kessler, 13, an eighth-grader at WCMS, has been playing the alto saxophone since he was in fifth-grade band at Hualapai Elementary School. Kessler, who will be part of the festival for the second year, said he is excited about representing the district at the regional event.
"It means I'm good enough that they chose me to go over others," said Kessler. "It really is a big deal. You have to pay attention to the conductor, make the changes they suggest there and do your best."
Taylor Cook, 13, a WCMS eighth-grader, agreed. Cook has been playing the clarinet in band since fifth grade at Manzanita Elementary School. Cook has attended the festival for the past two years.
"Being a part of this means I've really progressed in my music," said Cook. "When I first started playing the clarinet, I couldn't play the notes and was just squeaking on it. I'm doing a lot better than that now."
Delanie Cencelewski, 13, an eighth-grade student at KMS, has been playing the flute for four years, since she was in band at La Senita Elementary School. This is Cencelewski's first year attending the festival.
"I'm pretty excited about it," said Cencelewski. "It's a good chance for me to learn more as a flute player. I know the music is harder than what we play in band now, so it will help me become a skilled musician and make high school band a little easier for me. It's going to be a fun experience. I'm really proud that I made it."
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