All State — the highest award possible — the goal of every high school band student as they pick up their All Region etudes in August each year. 

The All State patch is one that is sure to go on the letter jacket of any band student who is fortunate enough to receive one … and it just so happens that this year, the Waxahachie Band has not one, not two, not three, not four, but five students who are now proudly classified as “All State” for 2009:  Jonathan Polanco, Tiffany Neal, Chelsea Kimberlin, David Hale, and Jack Ansell.

“Believe it or not, preparation for this competition actually coincides with the marching season every year,” said Rich Armstrong, Director of WISD Bands.  “The process begins with the distribution of the music, which consists of three short pieces  —  called “etudes”  —  written specifically for this competition,  at the beginning of the school year.  While band class time and after-school practices are concentrated on marching music, I meet with each section of the band for the explicit purpose of learning and fine tuning the etudes.

 We also contact our private teachers to ensure the best opportunity is afforded to each participant.”

The actual All Region competition is held in Duncanville at the beginning of December. The results were posted that day indicating which students qualified for an All Region band as well as those who advanced to the Area audition.

“Once we received the All Region results, we were definitely excited since 44 of our students made one of three bands. Almost one third of our entire WHS band population earned an All Region Band chair.”

Of those making All Region, 12 students had scores high enough to make them eligible to compete at Area the first weekend of January in Waco. 

This competition not only determines the students’ ranking within the Area, but it also serves as the qualifying audition for those progressing to the All State level.

“I was concerned about maintaining the momentum over the Christmas holidays, so, we designed our own ‘competition.’  The students came in one day during the break and spent six hours, basically practicing the music and experiencing the type of pressure that is part of an Area contest. Reggie Cook, our assistant band director here at the high school, and Dan Frances, Howard 8th Grade Center band director, worked with us, and I believe it was an important key to our success.”

These students will travel to San Antonio in February for three days of practice, competition, and rehearsal as they prepare for a concert on Feb. 14, along with other students from across the state of Texas.

“My goal for this year was to have as many qualify for All State as possible. Five is great but we are already looking at how we can help more students achieve this great honor next year. I’m particularly interested to see the final All State list because I know that Waxahachie will be represented alongside some of the best programs in the state!

“Most of these students have been through the WISD Band Program since sixth grade, with each one of them beginning their band experience under the direction of Donnie and Margie Owens.  These accomplishments confirm to us as directors that we’re on the right track.  We are extremely proud of each of these students and know that they will represent Waxahachie in an excellent manner.”

The All State Band Concert is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 14, at 1:30 p.m. The concert is held as part of the Annual TMEA Clinic/Convention in San Antonio held Feb. 13-16.  More than 22,000 are expected in attendance.

For additional information regarding the WISD Band Program, please contact Rich Armstrong at rlarm@wisd.org.