Coming off a record-setting all-region performance, Van Buren matched last year’s record of sending 18 to the Arkansas All-State Band after a tryout on Feb. 3.

Triston Goss on trumpet, Sergio Castillo on trombone and Vincent Eckert on bass trombone also earned first chair, making them the best in their section.

Also attending the all-state workshop and performance in Hot Springs will be Olivia Downey, Megan McGinnis, Jenna Wheeler, Piper Turner, Arturo Hernandez, Kaylie Mabry, Katie Lockhart, Leslie Rosa, Maria Cruz, Brenden Simmons, Chris Wells, Daniel Zelaya, Alan Scherrey, Chandler Woolsey and Jacob Reed.

“It’s pretty impressive, especially for the ones getting first chair,” said Ron Smith, Van Buren’s director of bands. “They all faced some tough head-to-head competition and earned each bit of it. They had to go in there and let their playing do the talking.”

The All-State Band Conference will be in Hot Springs Feb. 14-17 as all three all-state bands will perform and be conducted by world-renowned educators and conductors.

“They will get a lot of experience at this conference,” Smith said. “They will also come back, show us what they learned and make us better.”

Up next for the Van Buren High School band is assessment with the first round being held on March 6 in Van Buren. The second round will be held in Alma in April.

“It kinda starts small on a micro level, as we get each of these kids ready to try out for all-region and all-state, then we start to put the pieces together for assessment,” said Smith.

After the 2018 assessment, Van Buren’s bands will start prepping to defend its state marching band title.

“It really never stops for us,” Smith said. “We’re always moving towards the next big project. If we stop, it’ll be like changing a tire while speeding down the highway.”