Krista Corner Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Havre High Schools music students are on their way to state competition in Helena today. "We had a record number of participants from Havre in our District 7 Music Festival on April 18 and 19," choir director Pat Ryan said Wednesday. "Over 110 solos and ensembles from HHS participated in the event. Eightynine of our music students, representing 61 district entries, qualified for the State Solo/ Ensemble Festival in Helena. Also, all four choirs and both bands from Havre received superior ratings at festival. "We have a very active music program here at Havre High, and Mr. Johnke and I are really pleased with the dedication and talent of our music students," Ryan added. "Music is one of the things Havre consistently excels in, and it is one of the most positive things our young people have going for them at HHS.” Havre High band director Dave Johnke said the program's success was invigorating. "It's been very encouraging," he said. "It seems this last couple of years the program has been growing. This year, 89 students 60 groups qualified for state. Last year only 45 groups went. It's great for the kids and for us because it shows the kids and the community that it's a viable program and it's dynamic it's not at a standstill. It's one of the most energetic parts of the school and hopefully it continues to grow." Despite the program's success, some community members feared the school district was not going to send students on to state competition because of the cost. HPS Superintendent Dennis Parman said the concern was unfounded. "The rumor was just that a rumor," Parman said. "There were planning sessions where discussions were held regarding budgets, costs and possible numbers of participants. There were never any definitive plans in place to not send students to the State Music Festival because of a lack of funding that I was aware of." A Havre High School student told a different story. In her letter to the editor, published Feb. 21 in the Havre Daily, HHS senior and music student Jessie Obrecht pleaded with the community to light the district's fire. "Recently the music department informed the students that not all qualifiers for state will be allowed to go and compete due to lack of budget and too many kids reaching this level of competition," Obrecht wrote. "So now we ask you as tax payers, community members, adminis- trators and fellow musicians to help us try and find a way to get our musicians to the State Music Festival in Helena at the end of May." On Thursday, Obrecht told the Havre Daily what it means to her to be a young musician allowed to compete. "It's huge," she said. "We get the chance to show off all our skills. It's not only good for the students, but our department heads Mr. Ryan and Mr. Johnke because they get to show what they've done with us throughout the year." Senior music student T.J. Schwartzkopf added, "Well it means that I have practiced really hard and I've gotten the best score I could possibly get," he said. "I've achieved what most people go to (district music) festival to achieve." Sophomore Mercedes Lodge said being awarded a superior rating and the chance to go to state allows her to evaluate herself. "Apparently I've done really well," she said of getting to state. "And it just proves that even though I'm really young, I'm just as good as everyone else." So, how would the students feel if they didn't get to go to state? "It would have been devastating," Obrecht said. "Not only for me, but for the program. It's really a huge opportunity to see other musicians play and also get critiqued on how you play." "It would've destroyed me," Schwartzkopf said of not going. "I would have understood because that's a lot of money they put out for (the trip), but it would have made me really upset." "It just would've meant that we don't have enough funds," Lodge said. "We probably would have found a way to go anyway, but it still would've upset me." Ryan told the Havre Daily on Thursday that while the district is faced with a budgeting issue, confusion surrounding the issue may have been distorted. "There was quite a bit of confusion about (not going to state) earlier in the year, and it is important that we get the correct information to our community," he said. "There is a funding issue, and it costs a lot of money to send kids to music festivals. I think what we have is a successful program and because of that we have a lot more participation and it's caused some hurdles. "Because of the funding, I think there was (at one time) one possible consequence that if there wasn't enough money, not everyone would get to go," Ryan added. "Our administration has made it possible for everyone to go, and we're so grateful for that." Parman said the trip for the 89 students was expensive, with the total estimated cost at $5,000, including $1,100 in entry fees, $1,200 for the bus driver and fuel expenses, $1,500 for meals and $1,300 for motel rooms. The district is funding the trip 100 percent this year, he said. "Our goal is that every student that qualifies goes, as far as Mr. Johnke and I are concerned," Ryan said. "There's no doubt in my mind that we had the most kids to ever participate in the district music festival this year, and almost all of that is student led. The kids are basically doing extra homework Dave and I are just ecstatic that this many kids are participating. It's great to see."