The theme for the Vilonia Band Banquet, held Friday, was the British Invasion. About 250 were in attendance. Some dressed the part of living in the mid-1960s wearing red, white and blue. A few of the females wore short skirts and go-go boots. The Vilonia Sr. High Jazz Band and “The Other Guys” played pop tunes made famous by such groups as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Who.
Jolene Sanders, high school counselor, assisted with handing out of a few awards. She spoke briefly offering a bit of advice using a quote from Dr. Seuss with a motherly ending.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who'll decide where to go,” she said, adding and, “whatever you do, remember to call home. Your mother will appreciate that.”
Head band director Philip Nichols, along with the assistant directors, handed out the majority of awards. There were serious moments but most of the event was light-hearted. Awards included appreciation awards, student section awards, most improved, directors’ choice, all region band and all region jazz band as well as state band recognition, senior awards and the specialty awards.
Students receiving specialty awards including the Governor’s Award for Musical Excellence presented to Sarah Gwatney, the Louie Armstrong Jazz Award presented to Nathan Davis, the Henry Gilmore Award presented to Tommy Pate and the John Philip Sousa Award presented to Dakota Billing. Mat McNeal also received an outstanding jazz musician award.
Nichols thanked the parents for their support and for keeping their students in band. He also thanked Joyce Young and Barb Davis, referring to them as “special booster people,” for the support to the band. The women, he said, have been working with him a long time.
In the end, a video of photos were showed including some that were taken during the recent Disney trip.
On the light side, Nichols presented Cody Reeves the chocolate milk award for getting sick during the band trip. Also, two other students were presented the tuba mouthpiece awards for forgetting their mouthpieces, in Vilonia, during the Disney trip. Nichols said the day was saved when students were “magically” supplied substitutes by the Disney “people.”