By Nancy Covert
The last weekend in February featured a celebration that one middle school musician will long remember.
Connor Whyte, a bassist with the Pioneer Middle School’s Jazz Ensemble, marked his 14th birthday in a truly “cool” manner: with sweet treats and a memorable pool party.
En route to the 2011 Lionel Hampton Jazz festival, held every year since 1967 at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Pioneer Middle School’s 25+ member Jazz Ensemble feted Whyte with frosted cakes and icicles. They also spent two hours splashing around in a pool where the air temperature was estimated to be “four degrees.”
There was snow in Eastern Washington—“about two feet of it” surrounding the motel where the group stayed, explained one of the band members who took part in the invigorating water activities.
The band departed DuPont early morning on Feb. 25, arriving about 8:30 p.m. in Spokane. They continued to Moscow the next day, where they joined students from more than 40 schools to take part in the festival’s annual events. Steilacoom students have participated each year in the Jazz in School’s Program since 1995.
Last year an estimated 7,500 students schools participated in the event.
Group chaperones oversaw the pool party, assured SHS/PIO Band Director Bruce Folmer, who conducted the ensemble’s after-school rehearsal the following Monday.
According to a trio of ensemble musicians Kirin Zborlski, Sabrina White and Cyann Fountain, “”we ate icicles off the balcony!” They also brought back lots of festival souvenirs.
Whyte added that his birthday celebration was, “really odd.”
Like an intricate jazz composition, SHSD students each enjoyed the experiences of socializing with musicians from other schools as well.
“They were extremely well behaved,” said Mr. Folmer about this Middle School group “in training” for their role as members of the high school ensemble.
Hear Steilacoom School District’s bands perform this coming week.
Concerts are scheduled for March 8 at the High School Commons and March 10 in the Pioneer Middle School gym. Both concerts begin at 7 p.m.