The 2019 Pelican Rapids High School band finished the year in fine musical form May 9, for the finale spring concert.
But this particular band had a few distinctions, along with its impressively refined sound. It was perhaps the largest group of seniors ever, noted director Sean Fitzsimmons. Out of 63 total seniors in the Class of 2019, 25 were in the band. At 40 percent of the graduating class, it is an unusually high proportion. At larger schools, noted Fitzsimmons, the percentage of seniors that stuck it out to their final year is as low as 5 percent.
The percentage is “unheard of,” said Fitzsimmons, who credited the students for staying with the program right through graduation. At many schools, band participation drops with each passing year, as juniors and seniors become involved in other activities.
Annual band awards were also announced at the concert, which featured not only the high school wind ensemble, but the 7th grade band, and the concert band, comprised of mostly 8th-9th graders.
Winning the Frazier family scholarship, earmarked for choir and band youth, flute player Melissa Hajder was the recipient.
The “Director’s Award” went to flutist Grace Peterson and bassoon player Mackenzie Thornton.
Winning the John Philips Sousa award were two accomplished young musicians, both of whom qualified for All State Band: Colm Fitzsimmons and Gavin Haugrud.
The outgoing band’s senior class presented director Fitzsimmons with several gifts – including a brand new office chair. Grinning broadly, Fitzsimmons noted that the new chair is a welcome replacement–since he still has the chair that was in his office when he started in Pelican Rapids, 25 years ago.
A stage highlight of the night was a trumpet solo by Colm Fitzsimmons, who will continue music education, along with computer science, at Luther College in Iowa.
It was a special moment–with father and son at center stage, for the final concert of Colm’s tenure at Pelican Rapids High.
As a final note, Director Fitzsimmons put in a plea for contributions toward the Fine Arts Auditorium. An aggressive campaign is underway for acoustic and audio enhancements to the new facility, and a special board listing contributors has been added to the lobby of the auditorium.