SSHS varsity band brings home sweepstakes trophy

Wildcat musicians earn top scores for 4th time in five years

BY FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

April 23, 2008 - The Sulphur Springs High School Varsity Band came home from the regional UIL competition this weekend with the coveted sweepstakes title, marking the fourth of five years they've received the trophy for making "ones," the top marks in marching, concert and sight-reading portions of the contest.

"Varsity got a one on marching, a one at concert and one on site-reading," said Charles McCauley, director of bands for Sulphur Springs Independent School District.

The SSHS non-varsity band also was awarded a first division rating on stage for their concert performance. The non-varsity band was also one judge's vote shy of first in sight reading. From the judges they received one first and two second division ranking, which are still exceptional scores, McCauley said.

"We are very excited for the kids," said McCauley, referring to the seventh and eighth grade bands' sweepstakes accomplishments, as well as the high school bands' successes. "It's great that of every band program there, we are the only 4A band program to have every band, seventh through varsity, to receive a first division rating on concert. I'm really proud of our students, really pleased with the way everything turned out."

One of the judges was literally wowed by the accomplishments.

"WOW. Hope you appreciate what you have," one concert judge wrote in his comments. "You have magnificent musicians here in this organization. You have the right to be proud of your wonderful accomplishment. You are a credit to your school, town and music education in the state."

Earning the sweepstakes award four out of the last five years was great, but each achievement also means added pressure for the students each year to dig deep and not only match but exceed their previous years' performances.

It would be easy to forget what a great band program and hard-working musicians Sulphur Springs has, McCauley noted, but he said directors, parents and community members have been great to remind the students by showing their support.

The students, McCauley said, are to be commended for working hard most of the semester to perfect their craft. This was especially challenging for the symphonic, or varsity band, which had only five seniors. They also had 15 freshmen competing.

"What a jump from middle school to high school and on to varsity," McCauley lauded. "These kids all really worked their tails off.

"We have good kids," he added. "I was reminded of that on our trip to Chicago recently. We had not one incident or problem with one kid. We have quality students. We also have great parents that are raising great kids -- that goes into it. It's not just about band. Each situation here presents an opportunity for a life's lesson. That's what it's all about. We're excited to have them for a while. I'm very proud of the kids.""

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