Sunday, April 27, 2014

It's on! We will be playing at the Earth Day Celebration Today!!

The Town of Windsor has moved us to the covered part of the stage, so we will be able to play even with the light rain that is falling.  Thanks!!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Earth Day Performance at the Town Green



What:  Earth Day Celebration
When: April 27th 9:45 – 10:30
Who:   Honor Band students attending Discovery Kingdom and any other Honor Band students who want to attend for points. 
We will meet at the stage near the Windsor Public Library at 9:45.  We will play from 10:00 to 10:30.    Students will be dressed in black and white.  There is a chance of rain on Sunday Morning.  If it is raining, we will not be able to play because there is no shelter.  Please write or call with questions.  Thanks!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

WMS Honor Band Visits Sonoma State University

WMS Honor Band students had a chance to visit the Green Center at Sonoma State University to watch the Sonoma State Wind Ensemble perform.  The students were blown away by the quality of the performance.  Interestingly, WMS alumni Rebecca Royer was in the ensemble.  She is finishing up her senior year at SSU with a degree in Music Education. She plans on being a music teacher when she graduates.  The performance was part of the Sonoma State Wind Band Festival.  High school groups from around the state attended and performed at the all day event.  The concert featured a new piece by young composer Viet Cuong, who spoke to the audience before his piece was performed.  Before the concert, students enjoyed lunch in the outdoor amphitheatre:
 It was a wonderful day.  We are so happy we got to see the concert and the Green Center at Sonoma State.
 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

WMS Honor Band to play at Windsor Earth Day Celebration/Visit Discovery Kingdom


3/11/14

Dear Parents
One of the highlights of the year over the past 10 years has been our annual trip to Discovery Kingdom.  In the past, we have performed at Discovery Kingdom and then enjoyed the rest of the day in the park. This year we will be playing at the Windsor Earth Day Celebration on April 27th from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 instead of playing at Discovery Kingdom and taking our trip to Discovery Kingdom on May 17th.  This will be so much easier in many ways.  We eliminate the added expense of attending one of the festivals and we don’t have to deal with the logistical difficulty of playing at Discovery Kingdom.  Playing at the Town Green will give us an opportunity to perform for our community in a much better venue. 
The cost of the trip to Discovery Kingdom will be $50 – 55.00:  $29.50 for the Marine World ticket and $20 - $25 for bus transportation for each student attending.  (We will be able to determine the exact cost of the bus when we have an accurate count of bus riders.)  We are also happy to purchase additional tickets for family members at the reduced group rate.
In order to secure the tickets and bus transportation for the Discovery Kingdom trip, we need to get an accurate count of attendees.  We also need to know whether we can collect enough in “donations” to make the trip, as well as provide opportunities for those who may need to raise funds to attend.  Please fill out the form attached to this letter and return it no later than March 17th, if possible.  Parents, please consider joining us as a chaperone.  It is a really fun day and we will need plenty of help!  We hope you can join us.   Thanks for supporting music at WMS.
Sincerely
Steve Mitchell





My child ___________________________ would like to attend.
We will be able to make a donation for a:

____________ Student Ticket
____________ Bus Transportation
____________ Additional Tickets
____________ Season Pass

My child ________________________would like to attend but we are unable to make a donation.


____________ I would be willing to chaperone.
        
         ________________________ Name
         ________________________ Phone or email address

  ____________ I am fingerprinted and would be willing to drive
                 
         ________________________ Name
         ________________________ Phone or email address


My child ____________________________ will be unable to attend. 

WMS Students See Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra

A group of WMS Jazz Band students attended a special "sound check" by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra on Sunday, March 9th at the Wells Fargo Center.  The LCJO is one of the world's premier Big Band Jazz Ensembles led by Wynton Marsalis, one of the world's best trumpet players.  After the sound check, the band's drummer, Ari Jackson, and trombonist, Vincent Gardner, talked to the students and answered their questions about music and performance.  Students who attended the "sound check" also received two free tickets to the show.  Many thanks to Tracy Sawyer and Chrystie Prokopakis of the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts Education Department for inviting the students.  What a wonderful opportunity! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Winter Concert for Bands

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Windsor Middle School Bands
 

 






12/11/13


Dear Parent

Thanks for encouraging your child to play music!  The students and I are very excited about the upcoming Winter Concert on December 18, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. in the Windsor Middle School Gym.  I am writing to let you know some details about the upcoming activities and to ask for your help. 

The logistics of the evening  are as follows: Beginning Band students will meet in Room K115 at 6:00 p.m. in concert attire:  black long pants or skirts a white button down shirt and black shoes.  Beginning band members will not take out their instruments until I am in the room.  Beginning band students will have reserved seats in the bleachers closest to the performance area.  We’re glad that they will be able to enjoy the second half of the concert. Honor Band students will meet in the MPR at 6:00 p.m.   We will warm up and tune quickly.  Instruments will then be put away and the Honor Band will go to the gym while the Beginning Band performs.   I’m grateful to all parents who are able to help supervise the groups as they prepare for the peformance.

We would also be grateful to any parents who could volunteer to decorate the gym on the day of the performance.  We will have some decorations that you can use.  

After the concert, we will need a crew of parents and students to clean up the gym, stack the chairs, move the instruments back to the band room, take down the decorations and get the gym ready for classes the next day.  The concert will be about an hour long.  If enough people are able to help with the clean up, it will not take too long or keep us out too late.  


Thank you very much for encouraging your child to play in our bands and for supporting music in the Windsor Schools.  Studying music is good for them and good for our school!  We look forward to performing for you.

Sincerely


Steve Mitchell
           



Windsor MIddle School
9500 Brooks Rd So.
Windsor CA 95492
smitchell@wusd.org
837-7737 ext 134
 
            _____________________________________________
                                    Parent Name                       


I can help out by


__________  Serving on the clean up crew


__________  Helping to supervise students at the Concert             


__________  Helping to decorate the gym for the Concert               ______________________________
                                                                                                phone/email


























Winter Concert for Chorus

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12/2/13


Dear Parents and Students
The students and I are looking forward to the Winter Concert on Tuesday, December 10th at 6:30 p.m. in the WMS Multi-Purpose Room.  As in the past, the concert will feature the Strings groups and the Chorus and will last about one hour.  We ask that Chorus students arrive at 6:00 p.m. and meet in Room K115 where we will warm up to get ready for the concert.  The Chorus will proceed to the MPR at 6:30 to watch the Beginning Strings group before taking the stage.   

We ask that students come dressed in Concert Attire:  black long pants or a long skirt, a white long sleeve shirt and black shoes.  As always, we can use some parent help and support in cleaning up after the show.  Also, we need some help prior to the show (e.g. the day before the concert) in decorating the MPR for the show.  As you may remember, Mrs. Van did a fantastic job in decorating for her concerts and we would like to do the same.  Unfortunately, it is not an area of strength for either Mr. Hoffman or myself, so we are grateful to anyone who can help us out.  We are looking for some lights and other Holiday themed decorations to help spruce up the venue.  If you can help, please let me know.  I can be reached at smitchell@wusd.org or 837-7737 ext 8134.  Thanks for encouraging your child to be part of our groups!  Studying music makes kids smarter.  
Sincerely,

Steve Mitchell


PS. We will also be performing at the Town of Windsor Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Windsor Town Green on December 5th.  We will meet near the stage (by the Library) at 6:45 p.m.  We take the stage at 7:15 and will sing for about 10 or 15 minutes.  Thanks again! 















Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Analy Fall Festival


10/15/13
Dear Parents and Students
Many thanks to everyone for an outstanding start to the school year for the WMS Bands!   The students and I are very excited about our upcoming participation in the Analy Fall Festival at Analy High School in Sebastopol on Friday October 25.  The schedule is as follows:
 6:30 p.m.          Warm up
 7:00 p.m.         Perform
 7:30 p.m.          Clinic
 8:00 p.m.         Photo
Thankfully, many parents have volunteered to drive students who do not have another ride.  If your child needs a ride to the event please fill out the form below.  Of course, parents are invited and encouraged to attend the performance.  Thanks very much for supporting music at Windsor Middle School! 
Sincerely
Steve Mitchell

My child  _____________________________  needs a ride
____________
 to Analy
____________
back to Windsor.

__________________­­­­­_____­­­­­­­_______________
Parent Name and Phone Number

Another Great Year at Caz!!

Many thanks to the outstanding WMS 8th graders who joined us at the Sonoma Jump Start at the Cazadero Performing Arts Camp!  It was so exciting to hear the level of musicianship, and the fantastic concert on Sunday afternoon, after 10.5 hours of practice.  Our 13 WMS students joined 85 other students from various middle schools around the county for an excellent weekend of music, fun and friendship.  Mahalo to Kerry, Raven, Mason, Sean, Morgan, Maria, Jesus, Tyler, Ryan, Cyrus, Jack, Brendan and Patrick.  WMS is proud of you!!  Special thanks to our wonderful chaperone:  Amy.  Great job everyone! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sonoma Jump Start - September 27 - 29

We're looking forward to another great year at the Cazadero Performing Arts Camp's Sonoma Jump Start from September 27 - 29, 2013!  8th grade students from WMS will join students from Petaluma Jr. High, Healdsburg Jr. High, Slater Middle School and Rincon Valley Middle School to spend the weekend playing music, making new friends, eating great camp food and sleeping under the stars.  What a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a world class music performance camp with friends from school!  Thanks to all of the students and parents for making Caz such a huge success!!

Chorus Syllabus

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Dear Students and Parents -- Welcome to another tremendous year for the Windsor Middle School Chorus and thank you for being part of our musical community!  I am looking forward to once again achieving our primary goal:   to have as much fun as possible, and to reap the many benefits of music education by creating outstanding performing ensembles!  This document should provide all of the information that you will need to have a rewarding and fantastic year!
Attitude
Attitude is the most important thing in life, and certainly the most important thing in our chorus.   Attitudes are contagious:  bad attitudes tend to spread to others and can ruin a group and the experience for every member.  Similarly, good attitudes can sweep through a group creating a feeling of connectedness and loyalty that can make good groups great.  As Charles Swindoll said, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company...a church (a chorus)... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes.”  Your attitude and your behavior account for 1/2 of your grade in this course.  Please be here because you want to be here and participate in all of the fun things that we will do this year.  Students who develop an unacceptable attitudes or behaviors will be removed.                                                          
Community
Chorus classes are different from other classes.  In Chorus, we learn by working together to create something that none of us could create on our own.  Every person in the group affects every other person to a much greater extent than in other types of classes.  Each person’s behavior and performance directly influences both the quality of the music that we produce together, and the amount that we can learn.  Because we perform in public and represent Windsor Middle School, the quality of our work reflects the quality of our WMS community.  Each person in the group has a responsibility to every other person, and to the school at large,  to do their best, in class and in performance.   It is critical that we work together to create the best possible experience for ourselves, and an outstanding impression on the community.  You are a member of our team, and every other member of the team is relying on you to be there and to do your best every time we are together.
Behavior
Behavior in music classes presents a unique challenge for both students and teachers.  Think of it this way: the goal of our class is to create sound - beautiful, artistic sound hopefully.  We have large classes full of students who can make a great deal of noise.  Because our classes are “electives”, students are more likely to be in groups with their friends.   (This is good, because we are creating a community, as noted above.)  The challenge is to enjoy the company of our friends and to create an environment that allows everyone to learn.  It is imperative that students have outstanding behavior in the classroom and in public performances. Please see the “Rules” sheet for specific rules and consequences. Parents can help by supporting our efforts to maintain high standards for behavior and performance.
Calendar
Here are the important dates for 2013/2014:

TOW Tree Lighting             12/5/13

Winter Concert                  12/10/13

Spring Concert                   5/22/14*
May be changed to align with the WHS Chorus Concert

It is my hope that with this advance notice you will be able to keep these dates in mind as you plan your other activities.  The Winter and Spring Concerts and the Fall Festival are curricular events and are considered part of the student’s grade.  Unexcused absences to the Concerts will cause a student’s final grade to be reduced by one letter grade.  Bonus points will be awarded for attendance at our important cocurricular events that take place outside of school hours.  It is important to remember that our ensembles are communities in which every person contributes to the work that we produce together.
Performance Attire
We ask that students wear black long pants, or skirt a white long sleeve button down shirt or blouse that will be tucked in,  and black shoes.
Grading
Fifty percent of a student’s grade is based on behavior, attitude and participation in class.  These will be listed as “Behavior” points.  Fifty percent of their grade is based on work they do outside of class, or on demonstrated service to the group.   These points will be listed as “Academic” points.   Options for earning “Academic” points include documented practice time, written reports on composers and performers, written music theory assignments, musical or concert reviews, directed composition projects, music careers research projects,  solo and small ensemble performance projects, extra or cocurricular performance or fundraising opportunities.  There are points available for  serving as a Chorus Officer or other service to the “musical community”.  There are 900 points per term available for behavior and participation in class and 900 “Academic” points available for work that is done outside of class, or for extra service to the group.  The final grade is calculated as an average of the two scores described above.  Students who earn less than 540 points in the “Academic” category, can still get a “C” if they have outstanding classroom behavior and participation.  Students who earn more than 900 points in the “Academic” category will not be able to subsidize poor scores in the “behavior and participation” category.  Student scores are posted by “code name” in the room, so students will know how they are doing at all times.  The Academic portion of the course is “self-directed” in the sense that students choose which assignments they would like to do and when they would like to turn them in.  This gives students the freedom
to plan their homework around their individual schedules, but adds the responsibility of making sure that they have the points that they need for the grade that they want to earn by the time the term ends.  The grading rubric is as follows:

Grading for Windsor Middle School Chorus
 
Behavior Points available per quarter:         900
Behavior points available per day:         20
Academic points available per quarter:         900
Your grade will be based on the “Average” of your “Behavior” and your “Academic Points”
       810 - 900              = A          
       720 - 809              = B
       630 - 719              = C
       540 - 629              = D
       below 540 - does not     earn a passing grade
Ways to earn points:
  • Singing Tests (in small groups) - 200 points per song.
  • Music Theory worksheets - 100 points per sheet (4 available per term)
  • Practice – 200 points per hour.  Practice accompaniments will be available. 
  • Research papers on Composers or Performers – 50 – 250 points depending on quality
  • Performance Review – 50 – 250 points depending on quality
  • Composition projects – 50 – 500 points depending on quality
  • Music Careers research projects -50 – 250 points depending on quality
  • Chorus Officer – 500 points (President, Librarian, Treasurer, Sound Tech)
  • Numerous other incentives that make it easy for you to get the "A" such as "signing bonuses", "character bonuses", bonus questions offered. 
If you have less than “540 points” in the “Total Academic” Category on the last day when the grading period is over, points are added to your “Academic” score so that it equals 539.  This will bring your average up.  If you have more than “900 points” in the “Total Academic” Category, your “average” is calculated based on 900 points and not your actual total.  This keeps well-behaved students who have not done enough work outside of class from failing, and poorly behaved students who get a large number of “Academic” points from automatically earning a good grade.
it. 
Thank you very much for being part of the Windsor Middle School Chorus!  By participating in our group your are demonstrating that you are a person of character and depth who cares about your education and your future.  Every year, the WMS performing groups draw the finest individuals in the school and this year is no exception.  Thank you. 






































Honor Band Syllabus


Dear Students and Parents -- Welcome to another tremendous year for the Windsor Middle School Bands and thank you for being part of our musical community!  I am looking forward to once again achieving our primary goal:   to have as much fun as possible, and to reap the many benefits of music education by creating outstanding performing ensembles!  This document should provide all of the information that you will need to have a rewarding and fantastic year!
What is Honor Band?
Honor is defined as “high respect, as that shown for special merit; esteem.”  We are happy that WMS can offer two sections of “Honor Band” this year.  The Honor Band is a specially selected group of 2nd and 3d year players.  Each group was carefully chosen to blend ability and instrumentation.  A great deal of effort was put into this process which will allow students to play in high quality groups while still taking advantage of the many other outstanding programs and course offerings at our school.  It is an honor for me to have you as students.  I know that you will honor me with your outstanding attitude, behavior and effort!
Attitude
Attitude is the most important thing in life, and certainly the most important thing in our bands.   Attitudes are contagious:  bad attitudes tend to spread to others and can ruin a group and the experience for every member.  Similarly, good attitudes can sweep through a group creating a feeling of connectedness and loyalty that can make good groups great.  As Charles Swindoll said, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company...a church (a band)... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes.”  Your attitude and your behavior account for 1/2 of your grade in this course.  Please be here because you want to be here and participate in all of the fun things that we will do this year.  Students who develop an unacceptable attitudes or behaviors will be removed.                                                          
Community
Band classes are different from other classes.  In Band, we learn by working together to create something that none of us could create on our own.  Every person in the group affects every other person to a much greater extent than in other types of classes.  Each person’s behavior and performance directly influences both the quality of the music that we produce together, and the amount that we can learn.  Because we perform in public and represent Windsor Middle School, the quality of our work reflects the quality of our WMS community.  Each person in the group has a responsibility to every other person, and to the school at large,  to do their best, in class and in performance.   It is critical that we work together to create the best possible experience for ourselves, and an outstanding impression on the community.  You are a member of our team, and every other member of the team is relying on you to be there and to do your best every time we are together.
Behavior
Behavior in instrumental music classes presents a unique challenge for both students and teachers.  Think of it this way: the goal of our class is to create sound - beautiful, artistic sound hopefully.  We have large classes full of students who have instruments that can make a great deal of noise.  Because our classes are “electives”, students are more likely to be in groups with their friends.   (This is good, because we are creating a community, as noted above.)  The challenge is to enjoy the company of our friends and to create an environment that allows everyone to learn.  It is imperative that students have outstanding behavior in the classroom and in public performances. Please see the “Rules” sheet for specific rules and consequences. Parents can help by supporting our efforts to maintain high standards for behavior and performance.
Calendar
Here are the important dates for 2012/2013:

Sonoma Jump Start          9/27-9/29/13

Analy Fall Festival            10/25 or 10/26

Winter Concert               12/18/13

Discovery Kingdom Trip
                                    TBA (5/10/14)

Spring Concert               5/15/14

It is my hope that with this advance notice you will be able to keep these dates in mind as you plan your other activities.  The Winter and Spring Concerts and the Fall Festival are curricular events and are considered part of the student’s grade.  Unexcused absences to the Concerts will cause a student’s final grade to be reduced by one letter grade.  Failure to attend the Fall Festival will result in a 250 pt. fine.  Bonus points will be awarded for attendance at our important cocurricular events that take place outside of school hours.  It is important to remember that our ensembles are communities in which every person contributes to the work that we produce together.
Performance Attire
We ask that students wear black long pants, or skirt a white long sleeve button down shirt or blouse that will be tucked in,  and black shoes.
Grading
Fifty percent of a student’s grade is based on behavior, attitude and participation in class.  These will be listed as “Behavior” points.  Fifty percent of their grade is based on work they do outside of class, or on demonstrated service to the group.   These points will be listed as “Academic” points.   Options for earning “Academic” points include documented practice time, written reports on composers and performers, written music theory assignments, musical or concert reviews, directed composition projects, music careers research projects,  solo and small ensemble performance projects, extra or cocurricular performance or fundraising opportunities.  There are points available for playing in extra curricular ensembes, serving as a Band Officer or other service to the “musical community”.  There are 900 points per term available for behavior and participation in class and 900 “Academic” points available for work that is done outside of class, or for extra service to the group.  The final grade is calculated as an average of the two scores described above.  Students who earn less than 540 points in the “Academic” category, can still get a “C” if they have outstanding classroom behavior and participation.  Students who earn more than 900 points in the “Academic” category will not be able to subsidize poor scores in the “behavior and participation” category.  Student scores are posted by “code name” in the room, so students will know how they are doing at all times.  The Academic portion of the course is “self-directed” in the sense that students choose which assignments they would like to do and when they would like to turn them in.  This gives students the freedom
to plan their homework around their individual schedules, but adds the responsibility of making sure that they have the points that they need for the grade that they want to earn by the time the term ends.  The grading rubric is as follows:

Grading for Windsor Middle School Bands
 
Behavior Points available per quarter:    900
Behavior points available per day:         20
Academic points available per quarter:  900
Your grade will be based on the “Average” of your “Behavior” and your “Academic Points”
       810 - 900              = A          
       720 - 809              = B
       630 - 719              = C
       540 - 629              = D
       below 540 - does not     earn a passing grade
Ways to earn points:
  • Practice – 1 hour – 100 points. 
  • Playing tests – 50 – 100 points depending on difficulty.
  • Research papers on Composers or Performers – 50 – 250 points depending on quality
  • Performance Review – 50 – 250 points depending on quality
  • Composition projects – 50 – 250 points depending on quality
  • Music Theory worksheets - 50 points per sheet (4 available per term)
  • Music Careers research projects -50 – 250 points depending on quality
  • Band Officer – 500 points (President, Librarian, Treasurer, Sound Tech)
  • JB or EC ensembles – 50 points per session – 250 pts. per performance
  • Fill an Instrument vacancy (low brass/low winds) – 500 – 750 points
  • Numerous other incentives that make it easy for you to get the "A" such as "signing bonuses", "character bonuses", bonus questions offered. 
If you have less than “540 points” in the “Total Other” Category on the last day when the grading period is over, 539 points is added to your “Total Other” score.  This will bring your average up.  If you have more than “900 points” in the “Total Other” Category, your “average” is calculated based on 900 points and not your actual total.  This keeps well behaved students who have not done enough work outside of class from failing, and poorly behaved students who get a large number of “Other” points from automatically earning a good grade.
Instruments
Windsor Middle School has been fortunate to be able to loan instruments to students over the last few years.  As our program grows, though, it has become increasingly difficult to provide instruments for Honor Band students while continuing to supply our Beginning groups with adequate numbers of  instruments to play.  It is sometimes possible to buy used instruments at very reasonable rates.  I frequently buy used instruments off of Craigslist to add to the WMS instrument inventory.  In addition, there are reputable dealers who offer good quality refurbished instruments at reasonable rates.  Please be careful about buying poor quality new instruments that are often available at Costco, Sears or online.  If the price seems to good to be true, then the instrument is probably not worth the money you are going to pay for it.  (These cheap instruments have come to be called “Instrument Shaped Objects” by music teachers.  I often ask the repair techs at Stanroy for advice about instrument quality because there are so many instruments out there with so many different names.)  If you have any interest in buying a new or used instrument for your child to use, please let me know.  I can give you more information and suggestions about how to go about it.  Also, if you or anyone you know has an instrument they would like to donate to our program, we are always happy to give generous tax deductible donation letters.

Books
This year we will be using Book II of the Standard of Excellence series.  The school has copies of the book for students to use, but it is to the student’s benefit to have their own book that they can write in.  Books are available from Stanroy Music Center in Santa Rosa, or online
Thanks again for encouraging your child to play music and thank you for supporting music at Windsor Middle School!  As always, you can reach me at 837-7737 ext 8182 or by mail:  smitchell@wusd.org


Thank you very much for being part of the Windsor Middle School Honor Band!  By participating in our group your are demonstrating that you are a person of character and depth who cares about your education and your future.  Every year, the WMS performing groups draw the finest individuals in the school and this year is no exception.  Thank you.