VHS Hosts Area Honors Bands
Courtesy of Vidalia City Schools
Over 300 Band members from 31 schools gathered recently for two days at Vidalia High School for the 'Sweet Onion Area' Honors Bands. This year's Honors Bands is the third time Vidalia City School System Band Directors Dr. Beth Taylor and Stephen Arnold have brought together bands from around the 'Sweet Onion Growing Area' to participate in an Honors Band.
The last Honors Band had 15 bands participating, meaning that this year's edition was double in size, which caused some creative thinking on the part of Taylor and her fellow Directors. 'It's crazy. It's weeks, even months, of planning,' Taylor remarked. “We have had a lot of help from our band parents and our own VHS Sound Tribe members. We did so much behind-thescenes work, a lot of moving equipment. We also had to borrow some equipment from Brewton-Parker College because we added a third ensemble this year.'
With three bands — 11th & 12th Grade Honors Band, 9th & 10th Grade Honors Band, and the 7th & 8th Grade Honors Band — Taylor and company had to have one of everything, including the percussion world. 'We had to find a third set of every Percussion instrument that we had in the two bands before,' Taylor explained. “And so Brewton-Parker College graciously allowed us to use their equipment. Also, the band directors of the Sweet Onion growing area have just been so good to send in the nominations and arrange bus transportation, and it's been a great event!”
The bands rehearse for over 12 hours during the two days, which cumulated with a concert on Saturday at the VHS Auditorium. Three different directors with three different bands are needed, and this year they came from all over the Southeast. The 7th & 8th-grade band was conducted by Sonya Williams from Kingsland, Georgia, a retired band director who taught for 30-plus years. The 9th & 10th-grade director was Brent Harris from Graham High School in Huntsville, Alabama. And the 11th & 12th-grade director was Robin Christian, from Ringgold, Georgia, who taught for 30-plus years at Ringgold High School, and now works for Gadsden Music Company.
Taylor was quick to point out that the event also would not be possible without the parents and boosters. “The band boosters, headed up by Brenda Hadden, are a great team of officers, who have worked diligently to get corporate sponsorships to help offset the cost,' Taylor emphasized. 'Putting this on is just an incredibly enormous amount, and if we didn't have the sponsorships, we couldn't do it.'
She was impressed with how everything came together, saying, 'It's just incredible to see 31 different schools in a few short hours put on a concert that they usually take weeks to prepare for at their own school. For many of them, they're playing music with the best of the best, so they're able to play music beyond what they do on a daily basis. So that really makes my heart full with the students.'