Students in the Chamber Singers and Rock Band at Whispering Pines Elementary in Cutler Bay represented their school at the 2011 Music USA Festival at Universal Studios in Orlando on Saturday, May 14, taking home seven trophies.
Doug Keller, one of the proud parents, was understandably excited about the accomplishment.
“By the end of their sets, they had so impressed the three-judge panel that they all but swept the top awards in four categories,” Keller said. “Their dedication and hard work ultimately earned them the Choral Group Overall Grand Champion trophy, beating out not only other elementary schools but also middle and high schools. Two young soloists also went home with top honors.”
The trophies won were as follows:
Choral, Overall Grand Champion;
Elementary Show Choir, first place;
Elementary Concert Choir, first place;
Elementary Mixed Choir, second place;
Soloist, Lisa Dias (third grade), Overall Outstanding Solo;
Elementary Soloist, Kassandra Hincapie (fifth grade),
Outstanding Solo. Rock Band Elementary Rock Band, first place.
The school’s music director, Ron Simon, is in his 37th year of teaching at Whispering Pines Elementary and has taken his students to music competitions for 36 of those years, sometimes being the only elementary school in the contest.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Simon said. “Every year they just get better and better. To have people say that they were the best they’ve ever seen in the whole United States is so important for the boys and girls to hear, so they know all their hard work paid off. The fact that our rock band won first place is really rewarding, because it’s the last year for our rock band.”
The students range from third grade to fifth grade, ages 8 to 11, and have consistently been among the best. Simon is very appreciative of all the support they have received.
“This is a public school choir and band that has over the years won not just national awards but international awards,” Simon said. “They went to Canada one year and competed against the Austrian and Polish boys choirs, and they held their own. To have that in a public school system for all these years is pretty amazing. It shows what can be done.
“We don’t get funding like magnet schools; we’ve depended on corporations and our parents always helping us out throughout the years. We’ve always had wonderful people step forward and help us.”