2019 SBO Scholarship Essay Contest Winners

Mike Lawson • News • March 28, 2019

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Congratulations to the 2019 SBO essay contest winners and their school music programs. This year’s essay question: “What role had your music program played in bringing you closer to your schoolmates, friends and the community at large?”

SBO 2019 Essay Contest Winners

Grades 4 – 8

Ella Fogle
Grade 8 Age 13
College View Middle School
Owensboro, KY 42303


Byron Lee (Music Central), Ella Fogle, Jed Manire.

Since joining band as a percussionist in 6th grade, I’ve had so many opportunities to meet new people, learn music, and visit places I never imagined I would. From our own school band, to the all district band, to band at SIYA camp. I’ve kept in contact with people from each group, and I am still close to many of them to this day. I enjoy hearing about other people’s instruments and experience with music .Sharing the joy of music that are just as passionate about it as I am fulfills some part of my musical personality. If I hadn’t joined band, I wouldn’t have been as close with my friends, and some I would not have met at all.


Without our band I wouldn’t have had the exciting experience of playing at elementary schools, inspiring younger kids to take up music. Sometimes I recognize kids from my elementary school picking their instruments for the band, and I am so happy when I hear they joined because they enjoyed our Christmas performances so much.

It’s hard to imagine my life without music-surely I would not be as happy without my creative outlet. I’d have missed out on some amazing memories with my best friends, and I wouldn’t be able to use it to propel my musical career in the future. I am so grateful to these five years with the CVMS band and the way its brought me together with so many good people.

Avi Maun
Grade 6 Age 12
Sycamore School
Indianapolis, IN 46260


Tim Dawson, Avi Maun, and Candi Granlund, Director of Bands at Sycamore.

Since the time I started to play the piano, music has brought me closer to the world around me. In fact, I made my first friends at my then new school using music as a tool to bring us together. There was a group of people talking about the piano, and it excited me that they were talking about the instrument that I loved. I jumped into the conversation, and I made my first group of friends outside of school. I liked to share my love of music by playing at retirement homes, and then that’s when it hit me – music connects people together regardless of any barrier. Music, no matter its shape or form bonds everyone. Even at my school music forms relationships between younger and older students. My band consists of people of different ages, and we have the opportunity to tutor younger students who want to learn to play music as well. My band is like a team, where we share the highs and lows of performing, from nervousness before a concert to elation when playing a piece correctly. Our band has each other’s backs because individually our sounds are small, but as a group our harmonies swell into a sonorous symphony. And as out team plays our pieces together we create a melody that connects anyone who feels a love for music.


Madison Thompson
Grade 7 Age 13
Floyd Middle Magnet School
Montgomery, AL 36104


Matt King(Art’s Music Shop), Madison Thompson, Coleman Woodson Jr.

Being part of a music program has many benefits. This music program has brought me closer to schoolmates, friends and my community. It has allowed me to learn more things about music through connections with the community, developing performing skills, and allowed me to become more social and meet people with similarities through music. I can have fun with my friends, schoolmates and the community playing and learning about music. This has opened many doors and shown many opportunities for me.


The music program has helped me continue in my musical education while connected with my friends and the community. Each time we encounter another band or musical group I learn something new. I learn about different instruments, composers and music. Musical education never ends. There is always something new you can learn from a fellow musician in your community.

Not only has the music program connected me with the community through musical education, but it has also helped improve performing skills. Performing can help increase self esteem when doing well. Performing is not easy. It takes courage, confidence and support. It takes time to learn the skills needed.

Another fun and exciting part about the music program is meeting new people. I have met many people at social events. I am now great friends with some of these people. Social events allow me to learn things from other people. I also get to have fun. In conclusion the music program has brought me closer to my friends, schoolmates and the community in many ways.Throughout my musical journey I have learned many new things,worked on performing skills and met many people. This has opened up many opportunities for me. I have also seen and heard different music and musical traditions from around the world. I love the music program and my part in it.

Sarah Wheeler
Grade 7 Age 12
Home Schooled
Alavaton, KY 42122


Ian Panton, The Violin Shop; Sarah Wheeler; music instructor Julianna Waller.

Music has brought me closer to booth my friends and my community. I have made very close friends while playing violin in both The Red River Fiddlers and The Bowling Green Youth Orchestra. My fiddling group gives me a chance to play at about two smaller events in the community each month, and the orchestra gives me a chance to perform one free, formal concert each semester. Both groups meet every week to practice, and my friends and I not only share music with each other, but we also share lots of laughs.


I especially love playing duets with my peers and learning special harmony parts for our fiddling group. As our fiddling group plays at nursing homes, a local dairy barn, and local festivals, music has brought me closer to the community. I have had the pleasure of making many elderly friends through our nursing home gigs, and I always look forward to seeing the expression on their faces while we play.

One of my favorite gigs was playing at The Red River Fiddlers 10th Anniversary Concert. The building was packed with people, and it was so much fun to play as the crowd clapped along with our music. We are going on our 13th year and are planning to go on a tour out west. I look forward to making many new friends and sharing beautiful music with a new community.

Emily Xia
Grade 8 Age 13
Holmes Junior High School
Davis, CA 95616


L to R: Davis High School (CA) & Holmes Jr. High Orchestra Director, Angelo Moreno; Essay Award Winner, Emily Xia; Watermelon Music Owner, Jeff Simons.

The sound of an orchestra fills the Music Room of Holmes Junior High. Evey bow in perfect unison, every instrument separate, but at the same time, sounding as if one. Each instrument, each player is like a puzzle piece. Perhaps some are more important but at the same time acting like the corner pieces, but when a single piece goes missing, the whole puzzle is incomplete. Just the same in orchestra. When one musician plays out of tune or rushes, the entire orchestra is affected. With so many players, some may seem irrelevant, but in reality, that is not true. An orchestra is a community, we follow, we lead and we help each other when lost, covering up for our friends when they make a mistake.


When writing this essay, I suddenly realized how many of my friends were a part of orchestra, almost all. Coincidence? I think not. Not only has orchestra been a great topic during conversation, it has also brought us significantly closer to one another. Field trips across the state, laughing over musical mistakes and the same hardwork and effort we all put into making our instruments sound as good as possible has added layer after layer to our friendships. Through musically helping others and outreach programs, orchestra has made me an important part of the community.

Perhaps someday our musical career may end but orchestra has created memories for all of us that will never leave us.

Grades 9 – 12

Caleb Bell
Grade 12 Age 17
Dell City ISD
Dell City, TX 79837


Mr and Mrs Bell; Caleb Bell; Drew Stuart;Jacob Walston and school principal Carlos Contreras.

Attending a school that is miles away from the Mexican border involves many students who speak English as their second language. Most students aren’t fluent enough to have a conversation with but in music class none of that matters. When playing the guitar with one of my friends or classmates who speaks only Spanish, there is no barrier stopping us from playing together. It is easier to communicate when all you have to do is play the same strings as each other. When learning a new song, it is like we are learning a new language together. At that moment playing a song perfect as a group I am closer to my friends and classmates than I have ever been. There is no language barrier, just the sound of music. The music program is a blessing, it brings not just my schoolmates and me closer, but also the community.


During one football game the whole town was brought together to hear our program. A moment in particular that brought everyone together was the playing of the national anthem. I had the privilege of playing in front of everyone. The whole community was silent, at that moment I knew everyone in the town had come together to show respect for our nation.

Without the music program at my school I would not be as connected with my classmates or the community. The music program made connections I would not have otherwise. I aam thankful for being part of our music program.

Katherine Heath
Grade 11 Age 16
Bloomfield Hills High School
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302


Alan Posner, Bloomfield Hills High School; Katherine Heath, 11th grade student winner and Dan McCourt, McCourt Music Group

The clarinets flutists and trombones enter the stage with great expectations and a modicum of fear- the good kind of fear that heightens your senses, engages focus on technique, and elevates your performance. The resonant din of a diverse group of musicians ricochets off the walls: Korean, Arabic, Thai, Hindi and English. Once the conductor raises his baton, the multi lingual conversations converge into beautiful music. A language we all understand. Nothing transcends cultural and social boundaries like music. As President elect of the Tri-M Honor Society I have noted that no other pursuit in high school assembles such diversity of students bound by friendship, electricity and creativity. Over 500 students are members of band, orchestra and choir- presenting a total of 60 performances throughout the academic year.


Due to the popularity of our yearly college concert where band, orchestra and choir perform for one another and the community, the performances now flourish over two days instead of one. One of the highlights of the music program is the BHHS Marching Band. I have learned to laugh at myself when my feet do not follow the prescribed direction and joyously help my classmates when they struggle with memorizing the music. Overall, the BHHS music program provides an opportunity for me to be a leader and create lifelong friendships. By easing students into the band, orchestra and choir experience and providing a touch point for the challenges ahead, the music program at BHHS creates a culture of success for all of us.

Deedee Hernandez
Grade 12 Age 18
Chelsea High School
Chelsea, MA 02150


Shannon Chick, music teacher; Deedee Hernandez; Kayla Davis, Music & Arts, and performing arts teacher Pete Pappavaselio.

Ever since middle school I have considered the band room to be my home. In the mornings I would bring up my breakfast all four flights to enter the band room and sit down to talk to the band instructor, Mr. Thomas. We would suit there together eating breakfast and talking about life as other band members would trickle into the room, breakfast in hand. This habit followed us into high school with our new band instructor, Ms. Chick. We continue to hang out and talk about life before the school day starts over breakfast. These people have been a part of my life for years. The band has stuck together through every concert and community event. Playing in the rain for the Memorial Day Concert, laughing at the trombone player forgetting his instrument, crying collectively at a beautiful song we have practiced for weeks are all cherished memories


We sit in different sections, but we find our unity through the music we play and the mornings we spend with one another. On graduation day I will play for the last time with these amazing individuals who have given me a reason to continue playing despite the stress of competing priorities. This year it will be me who flows by in her cap and gown, as others are taken down memory lane. Music has been a major part of my life as well as everyone who has earned the title of being a band member. My band is my home.

Marta Lukomska
Grade 12 Age 18
Cleveland Charter High School
Reseda, CA 91335


TJ Milian, Sam Ash Music; Marta Lukomska, Cleveland Charter High School, and her music teacher Cameron Yassaman

I joined the Cleveland High School Marching Band during the most miserable time of my life. I had just moved to the United States from Poland. I was overwhelmed and confused by my new surroundings, but most of all extremely lonely. I hoped that among the marching band members I would find friends who shared my passion for music.


I soon discovered that marching band didn’t focus on music, but also leadership and community involvement. We performed during weekly football games, winter parades and music festivals. We also joined the school drama program for the annual musical plays. In the following years we began participating in field competitions, which allowed us to visit other Southern California schools with music programs. I was suddenly more involved in the school activities and more familiar with the San Fernando Valley. During my sophomore year I became the flute section leader which encouraged me to fight my social anxiety and actively represent the music program. Also, within the walls of the Band Room I met my best friends, and later the three of us became band council members. I was no longer just a student but a decision maker, working to improve the Cleveland High School Music Program for its future members.

Marching band helped me transition into my new American lifestyle, making it the best time of my life. Most of all my music program made the person I am today; social, creative, involved and excited for upcoming challenges.

Hadassa Morais
Grade 12 Age 17
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Parkland, FL 33076


Alexander Kaminsky, Director of Bands; Hadassa Morais; Fred Schiff, Allcounty Music.

In June of 2017 the Stoneman Douglas Wind Symphony was accepted to participate in a selective band festival and in March of 2018 we performed at Carnegie Hall. For us, the students, this performance was for the 17 lives lost. Seventeen injured and 3,000 students now struggling with the PTSD that came with surviving a mass school shooting. Every note played on that stage was for band member Alex Schachter. He is no longer with us but he lives on in our music. He comes alive when we play from the depths of our heavy souls. Music helped us grieve in a way that words could not.


Music is what brought me and my friends together and it is our language. Our band recently won the marching band state championship and it was an amazing experience to share with my best friends. I remember standing with my band at retreat with the announcer about to announce first place holding my friend’s hand, and when they said “Stoneman Douglas” a waterfall of tears fell down my face. I had so many emotions hit me all at once.

Time stands still in those moments when I am on stage, holding my flute, about to take a breath, and suddenly I find myself lost in the music. Time stays still when I’m playing bass in a Count Basie piece, and suddenly jazz comes to life. If there is one thing that remained constant throughout my life, it’s music. Even before I was born, music had its say in who I was going to be. It runs in the blood, in the veins and heart of my family and mine.

Thank you to our co-sponsors and industry judges for their participation and continued support.


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