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YOU'RE INVITED: Grant County Honor Band today! (3/14)

Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
News Blog Category - News Some of best young musicians in the area will gather together for a special performance as the Grant County Public High School Honor Band this week.

The public is invited to come out and enjoy this special performance, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, March 14, in Indiana Wesleyan University’s Chapel Auditorium in Marion. Admission is free!

The Grant County Honor Band will feature some of the top music students at each of Grant County’s five public high schools, Eastbrook, Madison-Grant, Marion, Mississinewa, and Oak Hill. It will also feature a distinguished guest conductor, who will help the musicians hone their skills as they prepare for a special performance. This year’s guest conductor is Michael Flanagin, Director of Bands and chairman of the Division of Music at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Band directors from all five schools have been collaborating to make this opportunity possible for the talented young musicians around the county.

“Establishing this event as a local tradition is something that gives our students ownership and something to take pride in,” said Eastbrook High School Director of Bands Joel Walters. “I am looking forward to this year, as students who are participating for their second year have made friendships with students from the other schools, and I look forward to seeing students continue to get to know one another.”

Ryan Wamhoff, director of bands at Oak Hill High School, echoed that, noting that his students were excited that the event was returning.

“Last year's first ever Grant County Honor Band was a tremendous success,” he said. “My students enjoyed the experience of performing with peers from around the county and found the music challenging and fun. Every one of my returning students who participated last year applied to be a part of it again this year plus many more, I think that is a testament to its success.”

It’s something that the educators know can have a lifelong impact.

“Our students talked about the Grant County Honor Band more than any other honor band they'd been a part of. When you interact with students from your own county, there's always the possibility of building friendships. We know with social media there can be a lot of interaction from a distance, but there's nothing like real life interactions with others that can lead to lasting friendships,” said Cindy Walker, assistant director of bands at Mississinewa High School.

Marion High School Director of Bands Josh Huff said the success of the event is just one facet of a flourishing of the arts in Grant County.

“I don't know that 20 years ago you could've said that music education was THRIVING in Grant County,” he said, “but I think you can truly say that today.”

Flanagin, the guest conductor for the event, noted that this flourishing arts culture has a community-wide impact.

“We have a lot of special things going on in Grant County — theater, musical theater, vocal music, instrumental music, visual arts, and more,” he said. “This particular event is not only an opportunity for area high schools, but this also gives our music education students at Indiana Wesleyan University the opportunity to see and hear students from the area as they help out with this event.  If this day can help to further their education, then I consider it a ‘win-win’ for all involved.”

The event brings opportunity not only for the students, but for the educators as well.

“We can share ideas, different pieces, and it gives us a chance to build a network of support,” Huff said. “Professionally, it's awesome to just spend a day with other directors in like-minded situations and brainstorm and talk about the progress of the programs.”

Wamhoff said this has helped elevate all of the directors involved.

“The time spent planning and preparing for each year’s honor band has brought all of us directors together. Now we are a team. We often face similar every day challenges, and we can be a resource for each other when one of needs help or is looking for fresh ideas.”

The real impact, though, goes far beyond music education, Walters noted.

“Music education can be very different than other activities in school, but also has many connections to those other activities,” he said. “The biggest difference is that it allows students to express themselves in ways that they might not normally do. It allows them to be creative while learning how to collaborate with others. I believe it ultimately helps prepare our students for the rest of their lives after they graduate. Students learn how to be excellent musicians, but in the process, they learn discipline, responsibility, creativity, and critical thinking skills.”