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Small but mighty - SCCA shines at CMEA
CMEA Superior Rating for SCCA
Summit Charter Collegiate Academy’s school band has proven it does not need to be large nor have a jazzy uniform to be listed amongst the best.
The small band was the only middle school band from Porterville to receive a “superior” rating at Thursday’s CMEA — California Music Educator’s Association — Music Festival.
Wearing black slacks and dark green polo shirts, Summit Charter Collegiate Academy’s school band — the Burton School District’s newest band — sat proudly as the curtains opened.
Under the direction of Stephen Smith, the band played Tchaikovsky’s March Symphony No. 2, “Ancient Echoes” — an American and Korean folk song — and “The Crossing,” what Smith described as an exceptional festival piece with dynamic changes.
By the end of the day, the young band, consisting of middle school students and three freshmen, walked away with the highest allocated rating by the CMEA panel of judges — proving it could obtain high marks, regardless of its size or look.
“We’ve been working since Christmas break on this music,” Smith said. “I am very proud of my band for our accomplishment. We have come a long way in the last five years.”
Smith, a graduate of Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia, is in his fifth year at SCCA.
“When we opened up SCCA we had 19 kids in concert band, and many of them were beginners,” he said. “To go from opening up the school and having a tiny, very beginning band, to getting Superior ratings in five years makes me very proud.”
But one thing has been missing. Since the beginning, the young musicians have never had school band uniforms.
“They’ve had ‘uniform envy’ of the other bands at each parade and performance,” Smith said. “We’re hoping that we get these uniforms before the end of the school year.”
The students could not understand why they did not have a uniform, he said. But that will soon change.
On Feb. 21, the Burton School Board approved a $25,000 loan — to be paid back by the band boosters — for band uniforms.
“I am also very excited to be getting uniforms to add on to our overall parade experience,” Smith said. “We are in our second year of having a marching band. The first year we had 23 kids marching — and no color guard or majorettes. This year we marched with 30 musicians, and added color guard and majorettes. Next year we will be adding uniforms, shield, and a drum major — and hopefully more musicians. Things just keep growing at SCCA and it’s very exciting to be a part of it.”
The students are also looking forward to uniforms.
“I am very excited to get uniforms. We are going to look awesome,” said Max Valdez, a freshman trumpet player. “I think that it will build even more pride in our band and school.”
Where it all begins
For the Burton School District, music begins in fourth grade, with marching band offered in middle school and high school.
“We start band in fourth grade, pulling out students from fourth, fifth and sixth grade for band,” said Sharon Kamberg, deputy superintendent for the district.
The district’s charter schools offer band and orchestra music to fourth, fifth and sixth grades and all students must participate in either band or orchestra.
By seventh grade, the students may choose not to participate in music and opt for art classes.
Teaching music for the Burton School District are two band directors Stephen Smith and Donna Steigleder; and music instructors Tim Bonnar and Elizabeth Wrench.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.