There’s seems to be something in the air at Stewarts Creek High School. Walking through the hallways on any given day and it virtually looks as if the school is almost empty and desolate and almost too quiet for a school with over 2000 students. With an outstanding academic faculty, an impressive roster of athletic coaches and a CTE program that rivals most junior colleges, it’s no wonder that students choose to spend their time in the classroom, bell to bell. Even in the hustle and bustle between class changes, the students seem to manage the transition between classes while still enjoying the occasional visit to a vending machine or a quick visit with friends or teachers. It might seem difficult to figure out why there is such a positive learning environment at Stewarts Creek High School. The answer though is really quite simple. It’s all about high expectations and a mantra that transcends both faculty, staff, and students: One Team. You certainly won’t find a better example of this philosophy than in the work being done by the young men and women that make up the Stewarts Creek High School Band program. Now finishing year six, the band program has accomplished an impressive array of achievements in such a short amount of time that many people in the community keep asking what’s next?
In 2016 the band traveled across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii to represent the Town of Smyrna and Rutherford County Schools to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Last April, the wind ensemble was selected by the Tennessee Music Education Association to perform at the 61st Annual Music Education Conference, and recently accepted an invitation by Vanderbilt University to perform in concert this past February. The band made their national televised debut on WGN with their performance in the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade. The band program also launched its latest collaboration, the Tennessee Concert Band Symposium and Festival, with the band program at Tullahoma High School and the Tennessee Valley Winds Community Concert Band. Even the Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Wind Ensemble continue to perform to high acclaim in concert performance and sight-reading assessments, earning consistent superior ratings from the Middle Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association (MTSBOA) since 2016.
Yet even more impressive than any of those milestones are the individual student achievements that take place each year. On April 13th, ten student members of the band program performed as members of the Tennessee All-State Band and Orchestra which is sponsored by the Tennessee Music Education Association (TMEA). These members include Yassin Adams, Chandler Currier, Nico Dauerer, Amanda Greene, Josh Kern, Patrick Kounlavouth, Slade Moore, Xavion Patterson, Mario Shaw, and Will Strickland. These students were selected by a series of rigorous auditions, competing first in the Middle Tennessee Region and then across the entire State of Tennessee. Having ten students in the Tennessee All-State Band and Orchestra is a new record for Stewarts Creek High School. Additionally, four members of the band program, Katie Craven, C.J. Lake, Josean Perez, and Mario Shaw were selected to study at the Tennessee Governors School for the Arts this summer, adding their names to the list of over 25 members of the band program that have achieved this exceptional honor since 2014. And for the first time in school history, the band program has students who were also selected through competitive auditions to attend prestigious national and internationally recognized summer music programs. This summer Chandler Currier and Nico Dauerer will attend the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. Founded in 1931, the Interlochen Center for the Arts has an impressive roster of alumni that include symphony orchestra musicians, conductors, performers, filmmakers and many leaders in the performing and creative arts. Stewarts Creek High School is also proud to announce that Xavion Patterson has been selected to attend the Tanglewood Music Center in Lennox, Massachusetts this summer. Founded in 1940 by Boston Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor Serge Koussevitzky, the center serves as the summer home of the famed Boston Symphony Orchestra. This summer will also be a first for Stewarts Creek High School Band Members Xayvion Davidson and Mario Shaw, who were selected for the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA). Founded in 2007, YOLA is an initiative of the Los Angeles Philharmonic which was inspired by their music director and conductor Gustavo Dudamel and his experiences with El Sistema youth orchestra movement in Venezuela. Davidson, Patterson, and Shaw have the added distinction of membership in the Nashville Symphony's Accelerando program, which seeks to prepare gifted young students of diverse ethnic backgrounds for pursuing music at the collegiate level and beyond.
Opportunities for these students don't just happen. What makes these achievements remarkable is that these students are given the opportunity and support to pursue their individual musical endeavors because of the high standards and culture of excellence that resounds throughout the entire school.
When administrative leadership creates a master schedule that supports academic rigor, athletics, and a commitment to the fine arts that allows students to participate freely without having to choose one over the other, the students truly flourish. Another critical element is having access to some of the finest instrumental coaches and performers who come in once a week for optional student enrichment. Having an applied faculty of a thriving private lessons program in the school setting is key. The level of support that is given to the band members by the teacher-leaders in the building all goes back to the "One Team" mentality. Everyone gets the support they need.