Cass Middle music on the move
by Mark Andrews
May 07, 2013 | 1092 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cass Middle School chorus and band in April traveled to Washington, D.C., to perform and compete at the Heritage Music Festival, held at George Mason University. The chorus won gold in the competition and the band, comprised of a sixth-grade group and a combined seventh- and eighth-grade group, won silver.

“Since we won gold, we got invited to play Carnegie Hall next year,” Chorus Director Teresa Gray said. “The kids are really excited, but it’s going to be a very expensive trip.”

Students took part in various chaperoned tours of the nation’s capitol, visiting museums, monuments and memorials, including making a trip to Arlington National Cemetery. Both Gray and first-year Band Director Megan Pruitt said, from the perspective of teachers, the trip to the cemetery stood out as students showed reverence and respect at the memorial.

“Everywhere we went people said, ‘You have the best-behaved children; they’re so good,’ and actually at the competition, our whole school won the Spirit of D.C. award, which is the embodiment of spirit of competition, good behavior and good character, so we are very proud of that,” Gray said.

“[Their behavior] just really proved to me how truly mature they can be and how important our country is to them,” Pruitt added.

The groups were informed in the summer of their invitation to the event, which was based on previous accolades.

Both Gray and Pruitt said out-of-state field trips contribute not only to a student’s sense of accomplishment in an area such as music, but also educate students in history, culture and in life skills.

“A lot of these kids don’t leave the county or the state of Georgia and ... it’s the experience of a lifetime, they learn so much,” Gray said. “They learn how to get up by themselves, they learn how to be on time for the bus, they learn how to work well with other people when they’re worn out and get along with other people ... and it just means so much [to them].”

Pruitt added, “We’re not here just to teach music ... and that music is much more than notes on a page. It teaches motivation, it teaches self-discipline and offers life opportunities they may not be able to get elsewhere.”

Eighth-grade chorus member Klorissa Soto said she enjoyed the sight-seeing as well as the performance.

“I just liked that we got to go to all the different monuments and learn the history and it wasn’t just to go and sing — we actually learned history,” Soto said.

Eighth-grader Israel Fortner, who plays clarinet and contrabass, said he had a great time on the trip.

“Overall, it was an amazing trip,” Fortner said. “I’m really proud of ... our band and I’m really glad we got to go.”

Pruitt said she was proud of her students’ accomplishments during the trip.

“It’s a really big deal for the sixth-graders; they haven’t even been playing their instruments for a year,” Pruitt said. “For them to have played their instruments for such a short time and be invited to perform on this very large stage, ... is something I don’t think they’ll ever forget.”

Students from both music departments said while they were nervous about their performance, they worked together to do their best in front of the judges.

“You do have nerves before you go on stage, but when you get out there, it’s just another concert,” eighth-grader Elise Wells, who plays the clarinet, said.