Van Buren’s director of bands Ron Smith joked he would not mind having marching season all year-round, but not when it was 13 degrees out one morning last week.
The band does not have an off-season. It moves from marching competition to individual and band competition.
The band members had about a week off once they won state back in October at War Memorial Stadium, and it was back to work putting in extra hours before and after school.
The Van Buren High School set a new personal best as it named 54 students to all-conference.
Of the 54 who were named all-conference, 19 will go to Jonesboro on Saturday to audition for the all-state band. Smith said it is a big honor for the students who make it as it may mean potential scholarships.
“Like football or basketball, if you make all-state band, you’ll start seeing letters from state colleges and the region,” Smith said. “This is how those colleges recruit and it’s worth a lot of money in scholarships.”
The previous record for Van Buren was last year’s 47 and the current number is nearly half of the concert band for the school.
Smith said underclassmen comprise about three-fourths of Van Buren’s band, which bodes well for the future of the program.
“It’s the level of instruction from the junior high and middle schools,” Smith said. “We attribute this success and winning the state marching band competition from the reconfiguration. It allowed us to get our teachers where we needed them and to optimize our instruction in preparing the kids. What we’re seeing has been five or six years in the making.”
At the competition, the band members performed individually in front of a panel of judges. Each was scored against others from the region.
“When we had that first record group of 47, it fed right into marching season, and this will feed into next fall,” Smith said. “Those all-conference and all-state band members will make Van Buren better.”
All-conference band members are Olivia Downey, Stephanie Benitez, Maddie Almond, Ashton Yerby, Alyssa Ellis, Allysa Pajarillo, Piper Turner, Arturo Hernandez, Kaylie Mabry, Leslie Rosa, Katie Lockhart, Maria Cruz, Astrid Rodriguez, Lesley Alvarenga, Brooklyn Cruz, James Estrada, Aubrey Hanna, Emily Ardiana, Allison Spears, Cass Wiederkehr, Garrett Spears, Will Marr, Chandler Dye, Ariana Chambers, Christian Robertson, Owen Chenoweth, Hunter Ree, Chandler Ledford, Brenden Simmons, Triston Goss, Chris Wells, Cody Deters, Sean Walters, Michael Partain, Hunter Harrison, Ashley Grande, Kaylee Henson, Aaron Mack, Jayden Warren, Sophia McClain, Alan Scherrey, Daniel Zelaya, Sergio Castillo, Cade Richesin, Vincent Eckert, Chandler Woolsey, Emma Davis, Coleman Smith, Megan McGinnis, Jenna Wheeler, Lauren Griffin, Abigail Martinez, Daniel Gonzalez and Jacob Reed.