LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The North Laurel Middle School seventh and eighth grade concert band performed and was honored during the 2014 Kentucky Music Educator’s Association (KMEA) conference on February 8 in Louisville.
The annual conference recognizes the top performing bands from across Kentucky.
To even be considered for selection, bands have to submit recorded performances to KMEA. The recordings are then judged solely on performance quality, and a selection is made. High school and middle school bands across the state are eligible to submit a recorded audition.
This is the first time in 21 years that a band from southeastern Kentucky was chosen to participate. For the 2014 conference, only three middle schools were selected, with North Laurel being the last to perform at the four-day conference.
The band was named as a 2014 Distinguished Conference Participant and was presented with a framed certificate and their director, Pricilla Wilkerson was presented with a Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association for outstanding contribution to bands and band music.
“Not everyone gets a great honor like this. It makes you proud that you’re part of the NLMS Band,” said Desiray Baker, an eighth grade clarinet player at NLMS.
The band program consists of approximately 150 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students performing in various ensembles, including concert band, jazz band, parade band, pep band and percussion ensemble. The concert bands consistently earn distinguished ratings at the KMEA Large Ensemble Festival each year.
Students also participate in EKU Honor Band and the Southeastern Kentucky Music Association All Festival Band. Other distinctions include performance at the National Middle School Conference in Louisville in 2011 and participation in the University of Kentucky Windfest in April 2013.
“The most amazing thing to me was the drive and determination of the students to give the best performance possible,” Wilkerson said. “They never quit working toward their goal. The snow days reduced our practice time by nearly half, but the kids were able to accomplish an incredible amount of work in a very short period of time. I have been blown away by their effort, their talent and their character. I am so proud of them.”