NEWTON GROVE —During a trip to one of the biggest theme parks in America, a group of local band students were thrilled to ride fast roller coasters. But they were more thrilled to take trophies back to Sampson County too.
Hobbton High School’s concert band earned top honors during Music in the Parks at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va. In the 1A class with nine groups, Hobbton was No.1 and received a superior rating. The band was also first overall and competed with schools from New York, New Jersey and Virginia.
“They were up against schools twice the size we are,” Band Director Geoffrey Tart said about the event held May 12 and May 13. “We were the only high school band from North Carolina during the weekend.”
Music in the Parks is held at various amusement parks throughout the United States. Ensembles receive year-end assessments by a panel of judges. In the process, critique and suggestions are offered as well. Students performed music from the North Carolina Bandmasters Association’s list. One of the pieces was “Come Tho Fount of Every Blessing,” arranged by Randal Standridge. The other “Sons of Liberty” by Larry Neeck.
“I’m very excited,” Tart said. “This has been a wonderful year so far for our program. They did very well, I’m very proud of them.”
During the first day, Hobbton band students performed at Passage Middle School in Newport News, Va. The next day, students spent the day at Busch Gardens, before the award ceremony. They also enjoyed a ghost tour in Williamsburg on a bus, because of inclement weather.
The trip with 50 students was made possible through the local Simple Gifts grant, which financially assist educators and students with educational opportunities beyond the classrooms. Tart said the trip was the first time several of them traveled out of the state.
“I’m very thankful to Simple Gifts for helping to fund our trip,” Tart said. “I appreciate them helping our students and helping educators to expands students’ growth, knowledge and performance. If it was not for them, we would not be doing a lot of the things that we’re doing.”
He also thanked community supporters and school leaders such as Principal Jennifer Daughtry.
With the school year coming to a close, the program is now preparing for marching band season. The title of the show is “The Road Not Taken” an will be based on poems by Robert Frost.
With close to 20 years of experience as a music educator, he’s looking forward to another year at Hobbton High, an environment he enjoys being a part of the year-round program.
“I enjoy that it’s not a big school and I get to know the students,” Tart said. “Instead of them just being a number or a number, I get to know them on a personal basis.”