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District 209 Students Continue Legacy of Earning Scholarship Dollars By Trying Out for the Bands

January 4, 2013 04:05 PM
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Maywood, IL...Ashley Martin, 17 and a Proviso East High School Senior, was nervous as she held up her trumpet for the audition.

With the reassurances of Rob Johnson, a 2007 Proviso East High School graduate and now the band director at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi, Martin played through her audition flawlessly.

"I think it went ok," she said afterward.

Martin was among a group of students from Proviso East and Proviso West High Schools to come back to school on December 20 during winter break to audition for college band directors from Alcorn State University, South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. The prize for coming to school on the first day of winter break: a chance not only to earn a spot on a college band, but to potentially earn a full-ride scholarship for college.
 
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"It’s always a good thing," said Sam Atcher, the band director at Proviso West High School. "I always encourage my kids to audition for as many schools as possible."

Reginald Wright, the band director at Proviso East High School, said the three band directors who auditioned students on this day were in town following the Midwest Clinic, an international conference of band and orchestra directors that took place at McCormick Place in Chicago that week. They were among several college band directors to have auditioned students during the school year, with representatives from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, having visited Proviso Township High Schools earlier.

As part of the audition, the students played all of the musical scales as well as a piece they had prepared, said Eddie Ellis, the band director at South Carolina State University. They also had to play a song based on their abilities to read from sheet music.

The band directors said they see Proviso Township High Schools as a good place to find talented students, with the schools already having District 209 graduates among their ranks.

Dowell Taylor, the band director at Jackson State University, said he was impressed with what he was seeing and hearing during the auditions.

"I’ve been very impressed with the students," he said. "They have great tone quality, and they have the desire to be the best."

Ellis said the band directors also were looking for students who can meet the academic requirements of the schools and succeed in both the classroom and in the bands.

"The more students we can get academically, the more money we can give for band scholarships," Ellis said.

The students who auditioned said they were happy for the chance to play.

"It’s a good opportunity," said Martin, whose sister, Angela Martin, a 2010 Proviso East High School graduate, attends South Carolina State University. "It’s a better way to go to college."

Mark Jones, 17 and a Proviso West High School Senior, auditioned on the concert French horn. He said it takes practice to perform well, but it is something he is willing to do.

"Band has always been what I wanted to do in college," he said.

District 209 has a rich history of students receiving band scholarships based on their academic and musical talents. It is estimated that over the past five years, District 209 students have been awarded over XXX millions of dollars.
 
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