Sherwood school bands growing big
Don't think for a moment you'll only find Sherwood school bands performing in their school auditoriums. This talented group of local musicians has entertained audiences throughout the West Coast.
In her sixth year as band booster president for Sherwood high school and middle school bands, Lennae Bishop keeps busy throughout the year.
"At the middle school level, we have a beginning band, an intermediate band and an advanced band," Bishop said, noting, at the high school level, there's the Bowmen Band (incoming freshman), a Concert Band and the Wind Ensemble (highest level).
Jazz bands are featured at both middle school and high school levels. The high school offers a marching band. You'll find the Sherwood Percussion Ensemble (winter percussion) at the high school and a Sherwood Cadet Percussion Ensemble at the middle school level.
"There are so many opportunities for students to find what they love and run with it," Bishop said.
The successful band program has evolved over the years.
"We moved to Sherwood (from Salem) 10 years ago," Bishop said. "My oldest son was in the sixth grade and he entered the band program at that point. It has grown huge since then — right now at the high school, we have about 150 students in band (about 100 in marching bands, specifically). I think at the middle school level, there are 80 students in concert band programs."
Sherwood residents have always been generous in funding the band program.
"From a fundraising standpoint, it went from us trying to earn $50,000 a year. Now we're up to trying to make $90,000. One hundred percent of that goes back to the band program," Bishop said.
Bishop praised the Sherwood School District's band directors, who are Brant Stai, Mike Dyer and Casey Crane.
"Brant Stai at the high school has done an excellent job of really providing huge learning opportunities for the students," Bishop said.
The biggest fund raiser of the year is the live auction at the Oregon Golf Club, which takes place March 7. In September, there's "Band Day," when students go door to door for funds.
"We've made up to $15,000 in six hours doing that," Bishop said. "That tells you how generous our community members are."
The Sherwood school bands have traveled the Pacific Northwest. Sometimes, they outgrow their venues.
"We've done a performance at the Sherwood Center for the Arts, but even that is not big enough for the size of our band and the parents who want to come see them," Bishop said. "We actually go down to George Fox (University). They let us use their performance hall for our end-of-the-year concert."
Bishop continued, "We traveled to Seattle a couple of years ago to perform at Northwest Music Educators Conference. This coming year, we've been invited to perform for all of the music educators in the state of Oregon at the Oregon Music Educators Conference. It's a very huge honor for our high school."
The bands have participated in parades, including Portland's Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade. The middle school students have performed at the Junior Rose Parade.
"We're actually planning on traveling to New York to perform in Carnegie Hall next year — first time ever," Bishop said, referring to the Wind Ensemble. "We've actually performed on the stage in Disneyland and had a recording studio process with them. We've had some really fun, amazing opportunities."
Performing in a school band is a great option for students who want to be part of something larger than themselves.
"Really for me personally, and what I've found with a lot of families, it's important for your child to have something to call home," Bishop said. "In my opinion — and I'm pretty biased — band is probably one of the best places, because band students take each other in and they really are just a band family."
Bishop continued, "Especially at the high school level, where you have so many students, it's easy for your kids to get lost if they're not involved in anything to, kind of, fill a connection. Band has been that for all four of my children, actually."
It's a busy job, but Bishop is highly satisfied with her role as a band booster.
"I have to wade through the administrative stuff to be able to hang out with these incredible kids who are grateful for every parent who helps them," Bishop said. "That's my satisfaction. Seeing these kids come in not knowing a single note — and seeing how much they grow and develop over the years in the program."
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