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UCHS band members receive honors

Unicoi County High School band students Ben Merritt, Ashton Silvers, Riana Upton, Emily Tapp, Makayla Clouse and Aaron Fregoso were named to ETSU’s Honor Band. (Contributed photo)

By Richard Rourk

The Unicoi County High School band’s trophy case continues to expand.

Fresh off of a successful band competition season, several UCHS band members received individual acknowledgments.

“UCHS had six students selected to East Tennessee State University’s Honor Band,” UCHS band director Evangeline Hurter told The Erwin Record. “Makayla Clouse, Ben Merritt, Aaron Fregoso, Emily Tapp, Rianna Upton and Ashton Silvers all made it.”

According to Hurter, students from the surrounding areas were invited based on band director nominations. “These students were chosen and went and auditioned and they played in an honor band with a guest conductor and they played with students from all over the area,” Hurter said. “That is a very special thing they got to do and they represented us well.”

Several more students also received accolades.

“Ben Merritt, Emily Tapp, Ashton Silvers and Mary Emma Regen were named to the All-State East Senior Clinic,” Hurter said. “These students competed against other students from all over East Tennessee and placed in one of the All-State East Honor Bands.”

According to Hurter, being placed in the All-State East Honor Band is a prestigious title.

“In the band world, we have All-State East, All-State Middle and All-State West,” Hurter said. “They take the top players from those to form all-state.”

Unicoi County has one member that will represent the school at all-state.

“Ben (Merritt) was named all-state, he will be representing us at all-state,” Hurter said. “Ashton (Silvers) missed all-state by one chair, but he is an alternate so there is a chance that he can compete.”

The UCHS Band has 62 students this semester and, according to Hurter, there are 67 students who traveled and competed with the UCHS this season.

“We opened up the season with the grand championship at the Chilhowie Apple Festival,” Hurter said. “Through the season we competed at the Hilltopper Invitational and the Appalachian Classic where we placed second in our class. We ended our season at the Division 2 State Marching Competition where out of 28 bands participating the Blue Devil Band made finals and placed ninth for the day.”

For Hurter, there were many highlights for the band this year.

“Making finals at the state competition, having a very successful Christmas concert and participating in the Christmas parades were some of my favorite highlights of the band season,” Hurter said.

According to Hurter, all of her students work very hard and it is nice to see some of them getting recognition for that.

“We are so proud of these students that have worked so hard,” Hurter said.

Next up for the UCHS band is the solo and ensemble competition.

“Solo and ensemble competition is coming up March 7 and for the full band, we will be preparing for the spring concert so that should be very exciting,” Hurter said. “The second semester the students have an opportunity to compete on an individual level.

“This year has brought a great deal of success. We have several members signed up for solo and ensemble festival on March 7 and later that month there will be a Tri-County Honor Band, which includes Unicoi, Carter and Johnson counties.

“As far as the band as a whole, we are planning on attending the Concert Festival in Greenville at the end of March. The spring concert will be April 30 and it will include both the middle and high school programs. A percussion ensemble concert is scheduled for May 7.”

For Hurter, funding is always appreciated to make these competitions possible.

“The band program is self-funded and our needs are greater than the finances we have available,” Hurter said. “Last year we were blessed with money for instruments from the Kiwanis and Ayers Foundation and with that we purchased several much-needed instruments. There is still a need there, especially in the area of percussion. We are also raising money in preparation for next year’s marching season.”

One way that the community can support the UCHS band is by coming out and enjoying a spaghetti dinner.

“The boosters will be hosting a spaghetti dinner on April 23 from 6-8 p.m. in the high school cafeteria,” Hurter said.

The band will play a few tunes at 7:30 p.m.

Band student sponsorship is a great way to help out the whole program. Any donations are welcomed and appreciated. For more information about ways to support the program, contact Shannon Blevins, Band Booster president, at Unicoi County Middle School.