The 2018 SBO Scholarship Essay Contest Winners

Mike Lawson • • July 22, 2018

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Several thousand entries were submitted as students competed for ten $1,000 scholarships.

The awards were given to five students in grades 4 to 8 and five students in grades 9 to 12. Their respective music programs received a matching award of music products from co-sponsors NAMM, Alfred Music Publishing, Elvy Sound Solutions, EPN Travel Services, Rovner Products, Sabian Ltd., Woodwind & Brasswind, and Yamaha Corporation of America.

Since its inception, the scholarship program has awarded $360,000 in funds and matching music products to the student winners and their schools. For the second year in a row, a student from the Sycamore School in Indianapolis received a scholarship. There were two winners from two states: Pennsylvania and Washington. Other states represented were California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, and New Jersey. The music students received their scholarship awards from local music dealers representation NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants), a major co-sponsor of the program.

Participating music dealers were:

• Lou Kraus Music, Ogallala, Nebraska

• Kennelly Keys, Bellevue, Washington

• Russo Music, Hamilton, New Jersey

• Paige Music, Indianapolis, Indiana

• Bertrand’s Music, San Diego, California

• Music Emporium, Hamilton, New Jersey

• Nazareth Music, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

• Quinlan and Fabish, Burr Ridge, Illinois

• Paragon Music, Tampa, Florida

• Chinook Music, Wenatchee, Washington


The winning students and their music directors are:

• Sierra Cain, Adams Middle School, North Platte, Nebraska and music director Rebecca Brittenham

• Samantha Yeates-Delahoz, Tyee Middle School, Bellevue, Washington and music director David Drassal

• Kira Johnson, Thompson Middle School, Middletown, New Jersey and music director Katherine Raguseo

• David Ruiz, Vina Danks Middle School, Ontario, Canada and music director Eufemio Escalante

• Riti Tandra, Sycamore School, Indianapolis, Indiana and music director Candi Granlund

• Alaynna Cole, Moses Lake High School, Moses Lake, Washington and music director Dan Beich

• Ava Giarrintano, Benet Academy, Lisle, Illinois and music director Dan Beich

• Gabriella Petrarca, Altoona Area Senior High School, Altoona, Pennsylvania and music director Kelly Sipes

• Sarafina Schultheis, Liberty High School, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and music director Kevin Long

• Jayla Thompson, Wesley Chapel High School, Wesley Chapel, Florida and music director William Luckett


Grades 4 to 8 Essay Winners

Wait. What? You’re not in the music program? Let me tell you why you should be.

As a student in both band and orchestra I think my friends should definitely join, one or both! One of the main things participating in the music program has done for me is to help me learn to work at something to improve the quality of the final result. When I first started playing the trombone I wasn’t very good. I have gotten better. I was even selected to participate in the jazz band at my school this year.

I think that music also helps me in other subjects and makes my grades better because it has helped me learn to think differently and work hard on things. It is also a stress reducer for me to play my instrument which helps when I need to relax. In the music program I have also made more friends who like the same things as me and it is fun to practice and perform with them.

Playing the trombone and cello has also led me to explore and learn about different instruments by connecting with other musicians. I may start playing the ukulele soon and have found a friend that may play with me.

School music programs are a great way to learn new things, meet new people and have a great time!

Sierra Cain

Grade 7

Age 12

Adams Middle School

North Platte, NE


If you choose not to be in the music program you are missing the wonderful opportunity to experience what it’s like to be able to make music with a group of talented kids. Playing an instrument or singing, whether it’s at home or at school, is a whole different life experience than regular day to day activity.

When you are involved in a music activity it helps with many things like expressing feelings or emotions. Being in the music program means collaborating with others and learning how to respect your teacher in similar but different ways than in regular classes at school. You learn how to discipline yourself and become more responsible, for example remembering to take your instrument or music binder to and from school. If you want to be in the music program and enjoy it, you must practice at home and being a contributor to the group.

To those who are not in the program it is a free and incredible opportunity to learn how to play an instrument! It is also a great opportunity to make friends and learn from others. All teachers are kind and willing to teach you and involve you with the wonderful and mysterious world of music! Therefore you should join the music program.

Samantha Yeates-Delahoz

Grade 7

Age 12

Tyee Middle School

Bellevue, WA



I think that you should join a music program

You’ll learn new things every day

It’ll open up a whole window of opportunities

And your band mates will help you through

the way

You’ll get to see millions of places

And learn lots of things

And it will make things easier

With every advantage it brings.

It will affect your future

And everything you do

And if you don’t listen to the message

You might say, “Why didn’t I listen to you?”

And when you are feeling stressed out

Just play a simple tune

Music fills the air

Peace throughout the room

It will help you build good characteristics

Like determination and creativity

It will help you gain the confidence

To participate in every activity

You’ll build more good habits

Like organization

Time management

It’ll help build relations

It can change your emotions

And how you feel

And have an imagination

But also see things real

It will make you happy

And also proud

If you get the right note

Play quiet or loud

It will make you stronger and smarter

Every step of the way

You’ll play with your emotions

And have the confidence to have a say

That’s why I think you should get involved

Play an instrument that’s right for you

It will affect your life in a good way

And everything that you do

Riti Tandra

Grade 4

Age 10

Sycamore School

Indianapolis, IN



I have to admit that I did stall just a bit when composing this essay. It’s because there is by no means a possible way you could describe the music program in a single sitting. It isn’t just a program, it’s an experience. The sheer thrill of being in a concert, try as I may cannot be described. And not to forget how absolutely jaw-dropping it is witnessing what we sounded like a month ago compared to the finished product. Even more astonishing, we are all having fun. I often think of our band as a safety net. A carefully webbed ensemble, so that if someone were to slip up the rest of us would catch them and we would continue performing. We all struggle and we know that the next piece we receive will definitely be more challenging than the last. Yet, year after year we attract more band kids willing to take on the challenge. The kids have so much dedication that it seems almost unreal. They will come in before school starts, stay after school or play until their fingers are so sore they physically cannot play anymore. They come to every rehearsal even if it’s not mandatory and be the best they can be, often not for themselves but for the band as a whole. So for any child that does not do band they should absolutely consider it because of not only the experience but the unique teamwork of band.

Kira Johnson

Grade 7, Age 12

Thompson Middle School, Middletown, NJ



Many times I tell my classmates that they should join a life building skill group/class and they ask ”Ok what class or group should I join” and I say band. Then I tell them getting involved with band will help you all throughout life and they ask “How”, then I say band is math, language, art, history, science all in one like when you learn rhythms (numbers), pronunciation, punctuation, composer names, rest, repeat signs. How and why instruments were invented and the history of composers, breathing and stretching exercises and what can happen when you don’t clean your instrument. You can also release your emotions and feelings by how and what you play with the instrument. I recommend band to anyone that has a feeling for music. I now really really love and enjoy participating in band activities thanks to my great music teacher Mt. Escalante.

David Ruiz

Grade 7

Age 12

Vina Danks Middle School




Grades 9 to 12 Essay Winners

With any extracurricular activity friendships are made, but with band those friendships seem to be stronger. Along with friendships there are lessons learned from band that can apply to all aspects of life. Work ethic, perseverance, problem solving, team work, even the ability to adapt to new or challenging situations. Yet these may not be the qualities or experience that come to mind when people think of band. Aside from this music

gives you a way to connect with people around the world. Possessing the ability to sit down in a room with complete strangers and within a few hours be able to play a single person’s interpretation of notes on a page is truly magical. The unique experiences and abilities I have due to band are incomparable, throughout high school and middle school I have played sports and participated in clubs. Looking back on the friendships and activities I have made and been involved in with those I realize that even though a few good friendships have come out of them, they will never compare to the lifelong friendships and once in a life-time experiences that have come from being in the band. I have gotten the opportunity to work with composers, the Washington State University Director of the School of Music, the Montana State University of Jazz, Music Professors and will work with other outstanding individuals over the next five months. I will forever be thankful for everything I have gained from the past seven years of band.

Alaynna Cole

Grade 12, Age 17

Moses Lake High School, Moses Lake, WA


There is nothing more life challenging or rewarding than taking part in a music program at school. A music ensemble is so more than an opportunity to become a better musician.

Though being in a band, orchestra or chorus will heighten students’ individual talent, the main improvement will be their ability to perform with others as a unit. Proficiency in this area is what good directors and their students spend countless hours striving for. It is

true that putting together a program or show is no easy task, but hard work does not always mean grueling work.

Music classes can often be the highlight of a student’s schedule. There is a certain energy flowing through these classes that typically isn’t found in any mathematics or history class. The “energy” is passion. It is what makes music classes so special and so valuable. Both sharing a passion and creating music with others are two things that are proven to bring people closer together.

When you combine the two, and throw in some great memories from late night road trips, football games, parades, concerts, tours, and of course from that “one time at band camp” you have a recipe friendships that will last a lifetime. If the music alone isn’t enough

of a reason to get involved, the music community surely is. Anyone who has the opportunity to get involved in music truly has a blessing in the palm of their hand.

Gabriella Petrarca

Grade 12

Age 17

Altoona Area Senior High School

Altoona, PA


Through my high school music program, I have learned important life lessons, travelled the country, connected with my community and made friends that will last a lifetime. My high school is modeled after the Coldstream Guards in England and we are fortunate enough to be able to act as ambassadors for not only our school but also our state and country as we performed in places like England, Florida, California and Hawaii. Our wind ensemble spends a lot of time performing in the community during the year, and it is amazing to see how much listening to music can improve people’s mood and make the community a better place. I never felt a connection to the city I live in until I started playing music at events like the tree lightings, chamber of commerce meetings, state education conferences, baseball games and almost anything you can think of. I am able to meet so many people in the community and learn about their lives and missions while also entertaining or inspiring them with music. As a member of ensembles you learn important life lessons. Music is truly all about putting individual desires and personal differences aside and working together and collaborating or the group will fail. The whole group has each other’s backs. You meet and become close to people you may never have spoken to without music. I know that looking back on my high school experience all of my fondest memories will be those of the music program.

Sarafina Schultheis

Grade 12

Age 17

Liberty High School

Bethlehem, PA


If I had a friend who wasn’t involved in a music program I would tell them about my experience being in a music program. I would tell them how it completely changed my life. It taught me how to be a leader and a strong person. It taught me to be independent and self-reliant. It taught me not only the beauty of music, but the joy of coming together with a group of complete strangers and forming something magnificent together, and in the process bonding as a family. Most importantly I would tell them that it taught me never to give up, if you have a dream never stop reaching for it. I learned that if you have a dream never stop reaching for it, if you love something nothing should stop you from obtaining your goal.

In music if you mess up, keep trying. I would tell my friends that getting involved in a music program does just involve learning or playing an instrument it means that you are about to become the best version of yourself with your new found musical family.

Jayla Thompson

Grade 12

Age 17

Wesley Chapel High School

Wesley Chapel, FL



Dear Fellow Students,

You are missing out on a very important part of student life and your own personal growth if you’re not participating in the music program. If you already play an instrument playing in the band or orchestra is a great way to advance your skills and meet new people who share the same interests. You will learn better technique and pieces that challenge you, pushing you to be your best.

Despite what you may think, the music program is for any skill level, beginner or advanced. Don’t be afraid to join if you do not have a lot of experience; getting involved in band or orchestra will help you improve and advance. Just remember to work hard and have faith in yourself, because you can do anything you put your mind to!

I have been playing violin for almost ten years now, and I can say that being in the orchestra has changed me for the better. It has helped me become a better leader and listener, and I’ve met a lot of close friends in these four short months I have been involved in the orchestra. It’s the experience of a lifetime and I would never trade it for anything. Well there you have it-the music program is a great fit for anyone who wants to learn something new and make new friends. All you have to do is work hard and have fun!

Ava Giarritano

Grade 9, Age 13

Benet Academy, Lisle, IL


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