TEXARKANA, Texas — The Texas Middle School Symphonic Band recently received first division ratings from all six judges in both Concert and Sight-Reading during the recent University Interscholastic League Concert and Sight-Reading Contest held in New Boston, Texas.
With this success, the band was awarded the prestigious Sweepstakes Trophy.
The band is under the direction of Kevin Sutton. Assistant band directors include: Dillon Davis, Kayla Ogden, Dominique Phillips and Paul Stivitts.
Sutton, who is in his first year as the band director, said this was the first Sweepstakes for the band in more than 10 years.
"It's the first time, from what we can find, since 2009 that they've won Sweepstakes," he said. "It just proves the work they're doing every day and the success of the program. It's not anything that we came in here in one year and did. It was a great program for us to come into. It's a great group of kids that really took us in stride."
There have been years since 2009 where the band has received the highest rating in either stage performance or sight-reading, but not both. This year, however, they found a way to put it all together against 15 other bands who participated.
"It's even harder for our classification because we're the largest middle school around," Sutton said. "So, we have different requirements than some other middle schools around the area."
Sutton said the band had many hoops to jump through during the school year, regarding COVID-19 protocols. With less practice time and rehearsals outside of class, they had to make use of every bit of time available.
"It shows how strong-willed they are that after last year and losing their entire semester, to come in and just put their feet to the ground and have to play a lot of catch-up," he said.
"We'd been doing a lot of outside-of-school rehearsals. It's been a little different setting with that and the masks and everything, but they've just done a fantastic job of understanding that's what they have to do. We haven't had any (COVID) outbreaks or anything like that, and I've been really proud of them for that."
Ultimately, he deferred the credit to his students who stole the show.
"It's their program," he said. "I just get to show up and help them out."