CLINTON TWP. — Five Lake-Lehman Jr./Sr. High School students skipped classes on Wednesday, Oct. 5 – but with permission and a good excuse.
Madison Chulick, Kailee Steele, Aidan Kukosky, Robert Lugiano and Jay Martin were among the more than 50 freshmen from eight different schools who participated in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) District 9 Ninth Grade Honors Wind Ensemble, hosted by the Lackawanna Trail High School. The one-day event began in the morning with rehearsals that continued throughout the day under the direction of guest conductor Gretchen Benson from the Pocono Mountain School District. It culminated with a public concert in the evening.
Lugiano, a trumpeter, said the best part of the day was “meeting new people and making friends,” many of whom he hopes to run into again at other band festivals throughout the year.
He added another benefit of the event was the opportunity to learn from his peers.
“Being around all these good players just makes you better,” he said.
Chulick, who plays the clarinet, said the experience helped her learn how to cooperate musically, both with people she knows and those who she never met.
“I enjoyed learning new and complicated music and just being able to spend an entire day doing something I love and am passionate about,” she said.
Kevin Kreinberg, PMEA District 9 president, explained students are selected for the honors band through an audition process, in which they are required to submit a recording to demonstrate their skills. Once accepted, the musicians receive the music with just two weeks to practice before the event. They spend the entire day in rehearsal to prepare for the public concert, which is attended mostly by family members and friends.
Kreinberg said the students’ dedication paid off.
“They did fantastic,” he said. “The group sounds fantastic. It’s a great bunch of kids – well-prepared – and that’s demonstrated by their performance.”
Other participating schools included Blue Ridge High School, Dunmore High School, Hazleton Area High School, Lackawanna Trail High School, Montrose Area High School, Mountain View Jr./Sr. High School and Susquehanna Jr./Sr. High School.