By Mo Moore

The Exeter Union High School band serenaded the crowd last Saturday at their annual tri-tip dinner and silent auction held at the Church of God of Exeter.

The dinner and auction is the second fund-raiser of the year for the music department that has had a very successful year in competition. The first being their fireworks stand during the summer; giving the band only a few opportunities to raise enough money to fund the uniforms, cover transportation costs and other general expenses. On average it takes over $16,000 a year to run Exeter's program.

Items such as gift certificates from downtown Exeter merchants and handmade treasures from students and their families were auctioned off. From an antique saxophone to coffee gift packs to various art pieces and an A/C unit tune-up service, no one left the dinner empty handed. EUHS Band Booster President Jenni Rogers organized the event.

Dinner was served while the Jazz Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble and Concert Band under the direction of Kirk Clague displayed their talents. These teams have traveled extensively this year throughout the state competing and winning against larger schools. Just this month the band has already competed in numerous competitions.

The first week of March brought a jam-packed schedule for the different sectors of the band. On March 1, the Symphonic Band performed at the California Music Educators Association Music Festival in Porterville where they received a rating of &#8220excellent,” which was music to Mr. Clague's ears. If that wasn't enough, on March 2 the EUHS Winter Guard competed in the San Joaquin Valley Color Guard and Percussion Review at Clovis High School. After being promoted by the judges to a higher class at their last competition, the group took home a first place win.

On the same day the Winter Percussion Ensemble, which has already won competitions throughout the valley this year traveled to Las Vegas to compete in the Western Division Regional, sponsored by Winter Guard International (WGI). This competition is the largest one in the West and included schools from five different states. Exeter was the smallest school amongst 700.

&#8220We have seven kids in the ‘battery' and 12 in the ‘pit,' said Percussion Technician Justin Qualls. &#8220Most have double that in the ‘battery' and double that in the ‘pit.'”

In their division alone, there were 28 lines, but that didn't stop the Monarchs from earning a spot in the finals and placing 11th amongst schools double their size and triple their budget. The level of competition at the Western Division Regional was tops and that is what the percussion team craves.

&#8220At the WGI world circuits they get better exposure and better judging,” said Percussion Technician Jason Rallis. &#8220Plus the kids just like to perform.”

The group will compete this week at the San Joaquin Valley Colorguard and Percussion Review in Union City. Instructors Adam Peitz, Sarah Pearce, Justin Qualls along with Jason Rallis and Jake Garrett would like to thank all who have contributed to this winning team including Mr. Clague, the EUHS Band Boosters, Lincoln School for the use of their facilities and Valley Uniform Center.

The money raised at the dinner will also fund projects in the works that are awaiting Board approval. Clague would like to see the drumline be able to compete in the World Championships in Dalton, OH next April.

&#8220Folks, they really are that good,” said Clague. &#8220They just need a hand.”

He would also like to see the band take a five-day trip to Washington D.C. where the band would be able to visit the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and play on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Trips like these involve many students and a lot of equipment, not to mention hotel and transportation costs. It is through the support from events like the dinner and silent auction and from the community that these students are able to compete at the level they deserve.

For more information or to support the EUHS band contract Jenni Rogers at 594-5110.

&#8220From my vantage point as Director I can do nothing but marvel at the quality of kids we have at EUHS in the music department,” said Clague.

&#8220Our students are working hard every day to provide the highest quality music and pageantry they possible can. The community should not miss a chance to hear and see us!”

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