1,100 students? Over 300 family members? Plus, food and entertainment? On a March weekend at Goochland Middle and High Schools? Sound like fun? Sounds like the District 3 VBODA State Concert Band Assessment!
The state concert assessment is an annual capstone event where band students from surrounding counties travel to an area school to perform for judges and earn a final rating. This year’s event was hosted by GCPS, and the middle school concert band and the high school concert band each earned straight Superior Ratings – the highest scores a band can achieve at the event.
“I just couldn’t be more proud of what we have achieved this year,” GCPS Band Director and Department Lead Jay Sykes said. He compares the annual assessment with an SOL subject test. “The band’s only competition is with itself,” Sykes said, “and there are many variables with any live performance.”
Hosting an event of this size while your bands are competing requires a lot of help from band boosters, band families, and from students. “We had families donate food, drinks, candy, time away from home, and energy. There were students and parents that guided bands, set the stage 21 times, monitored rooms and halls, moved bands from room to room, chased buses that came into the wrong entrance of the parking lot, and quickly and safely got them into school prior to the bell ringing on Friday,” Sykes said. “We had students and parents set up and break down. We ran a very busy and successful concession stand, and there was also a wonderful hospitality room that was a hit for every director, bus driver, chaperone, and every volunteer at the end of the night on Friday,” he said.
“There were folks who announced the bands, assisted with registration, helped the judges, and even walked the entire school with a tennis ball on a stick, getting every single scuff mark off of the floor,” Sykes said. “One of our biggest goals was to have both sides of the school ready for Monday morning after a busy two days, and we did.”
All of that effort and teamwork were noticed by judges and participants. “I am fortunate that I have been asked to adjudicate at assessments around Virginia, and this is the best-run event I have attended,” R. Paul Rozecki, Jr., Director of Bands and Fine Arts/Performing Arts Department Chair at Atlee High School, said. “Band in Goochland is alive and well, and I just wanted to say how evident that was this weekend. It also shows that the arts are valued in Goochland Public Schools, and this is so wonderful to see and witness firsthand.”