Delegate Joey Garcia honors WFMS superior sixth grade band

·4 min read

May 3—FAIRMONT — After being the first Marion County sixth grade band to receive a superior rating in the 2023 Region Ten Band Festival, West Fairmont Middle School band has been honored by the West Virginia House of Delegates

On Tuesday afternoon, Del. Joey Garcia, D-Fairmont, presented members of the band and WFMS Band Director Josh Sharp with a legislative citation and a big congratulations.

"I thought this was a really special thing to acknowledge. We always recognize sports teams and students who get good grades, as we should, but an activity like this sometimes doesn't get the recognition it deserves. So, I think it was really cool to see all the students faces light up and for them to have something from the House of Delegates," Garcia said.

"This is the best part of my job — to be able to go around and make sure that, in my capacity as a representative, that I can recognize the wonderful things that people are doing, and the successes that we, as a community, are having. And anytime I get to interact with kids, see the excitement and what wonderful future we have ahead of us, that is the best part of my job," Garcia continued.

The band, which is made up of 42 sixth grade students, competed with two songs in the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission competition on March 29. They are the first sixth grade band in the history of Marion County Schools to receive the superior rating and Sharp said he couldn't be more proud.

"It's a big accomplishment, especially for a young, beginning band that's just learned how to play their instruments — how to hold it, how to make music. These kids have been playing since the beginning of September and they have come a long way. They had a remarkable journey; they're one of the best groups of students I've had in my teaching career. They're just a great group of talented, young kids," Tharp said.

Tharp, who's taught at WFMS for three years, said the students worked hard to get the superior award, which basically means they made no mistakes in both songs they performed, and had superior tone quality and technique, among other factors. The two songs performed were "High Adventure" by Paul Lavender and "Mechanical Monsters" by Randall Standridge.

Two band members, Isha Stivers and Tyler Sharps, said they liked one song more than the other. Stivers said she liked "Mechanical Monsters" and Sharps said he liked "High Adventure." Both said they were honored to receive the superior award and citation.

"It's a good thing, but also everybody's going to notice you, when they didn't before. So, it's kind of weird," Sharps said.

Stivers plays percussion and in "Mechanical Monsters" she played pots and pans, which were hit with mallets.

Sharps plays trombone. They said they love being in band because their teacher makes class fun, but it's also something they want to pursue as a career. Both hope to continue playing music and play in a marching band — West Virginia University's Marching Band is an option they mentioned.

"For me being in band is a career opportunity. I really want to be a musician when I'm older," Stivers said.

Tharp and Garcia shared similar sentiments, in hopes that the students will continue to pursue playing instruments and being a part of band.

"The ultimate goal is to get those kids making music, that's what I want more than anything, not just a superior rating... I want them to make music as they leave sixth grade, whether they enter the seventh grade (band) next year and beyond. I want them playing instruments till they're 80 or 90 years old," Tharp said.

"I think it's really impressive what you guys have done and I just hope that, with things like being honored like this, ... that you keep with it — that you keep playing. Play in the high school band when you get that chance someday and maybe the WVU Marching Band. There's a lot of opportunities out there," Garcia said.

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