• Varsity guard earns 1st in class at Greenfield!

    Saturday was an exceptional day for Mt. Vernon. First, the varsity and junior varsity winter guard teams did well at the Greenfield-Central IHSCGA invitational. Then, the indoor percussion ensemble brought home 1st in class at a competition in New Palestine (but read the story below for those details).

    The varsity guard beat out 17 other teams for the top prize in Class A. The junior varsity received its first gold rating of the season while placing 3rd in Divisional Regional A class.

    "Both guards performed well on Saturday," Mr. Ellinger said. "The students continue to work hard and improve each and every practice!"

    He noted that guard director Thomas Thawley couldn't be more pleased with the season's momentum. "We expect to feed off this [momentum] in the coming weeks leading to state finals," he said.

    Next week, the varsity guard will compete in the World Guard International (WGI) Indianapolis Regionals at Warren Central High School. State IHSCGA preliminaries aren't until March 11; state finals are March 18--the weekend of the band's New York City trip.




  • Indoor percussion makes stunning comeback at MVHS!

    The last time MVHS fielded an indoor percussion team was before Mr. Ellinger joined the staff in 2014. In its first competition since regrouping, the Mt. Vernon Indoor Percussion Ensemble took top prize in Scholastic Concert A class at New Palestine High School.

    "I was extremely pleased with their 'return' performance," said Mr. Ellinger. "They have been working very hard on their show!" The show, "There's Always a Bigger Demon," is by Eric C.W. Peele.

    Mr. Ellinger oversees the program, but Greg Wolff has been helping the ensemble perfect its show. Mr. Wolff also works with the percussionists at New Castle High School, who also won 1st in their class (Scholastic Concert Open).

    "I am so proud of all these kids and the fantastic day they had at New Pal's indoor contest Saturday," Mr. Wolff said in a Facebook post. "But the best part was the Love and Support they all shared. Kids from both groups pitched in to help the other group move equipment on and off the performance floor and cheered for each group's performance. ... Competition is great, but making friends and sharing their love of playing music is the GREATEST!!"

    Indiana Percussion Association (IPA) competitions have two divisions: Movement Class and Concert Class. Mt. Vernon performs in Scholastic Concert Class A. Mr. Ellinger explains the difference between the two divisions:

    Movement Class incorporates a stationary front ensemble in addition to a drumline that moves around the floor, featuring choreography and drill much like a marching band production. Concert Class only utilizes a front ensemble. This allows us to play very complex music that could only be performed when stationary.

    This coming weekend, the Mt. Vernon Indoor Percussion Ensemble will compete at Pendleton Heights High School. GO MARAUDERS!





  • Choir, band students excel at ISSMA Solo & Ensemble

    Choir, band students excel at ISSMA Solo & Ensemble

    Since November, students in the choirs and bands have been rehearsing in preparation for the annual district ISSMA Solo & Ensemble contests.

    These past two weekends have been a time of reckoning for all of them as they performed before judges for various ratings: gold, silver, bronze, or participation. (Fortunately, no Mt. Vernon students received a participation rating.)

    For the sake of brevity--and to help save face for students who didn't receive gold ratings--we will list here only the students who qualified for the state finals. To qualify for the state finals, performers must receive a gold rating for a Group I solo or ensemble.

    Twenty choir students performed at the vocal/piano district contest Jan. 28 at Doe Creek Middle School in New Palestine. Of those students, the following soloists qualified for the state finals, set for Feb. 18 at Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis:

    • Freshmen: M. McKeeman and Grace Yantes
    • Sophomores: Joan Lee and Ethan Lewis
    • Juniors: Leah Peters, Lauren Pilkington, Nicole Ratts, Cody Smitley, Shana Stutz, and M.C. Timberlake
    • Seniors: Tatum Barton, Felicity Kratky, and Austin Jones

    An a cappella Treble Barbershop Quartet also qualified for the state finals. The students in that quartet are senior Amelia Alexander and juniors Lauren Pilkington, Nicole Ratts, and Chelsea Roundtree.

    One band member, senior Gavin Stamper, served as a piano accompanist for five of the choir soloists. But that same day he also received a gold rating for a Group I piano solo, which means he qualified to perform at the state piano finals Feb. 18 at Perry Meridian Middle School.

    A week after the vocal/piano district contest, Gavin earned gold ratings for his Group I French horn performances at the district instrumental Solo & Ensemble contest at Doe Creek Middle School. He is one of 35 Mt. Vernon band students who are advancing to the state finals Feb. 25 at North Central High School in Indianapolis.

    "I was very pleased with the overall results," said Mr. Ellinger. "We had many gold ratings throughout the day in addition to the list below."

    Heading to the state finals are 16 soloists (one student performed two solos on different instruments):

    • Freshmen: Drake Gerig, marimba; Carlie Sanders, trumpet; Deacon Stiff, marimba; and Hailey Watson, marimba
    • Sophomore: Brendan Mitchell, marimba
    • Juniors: Emma Flick, oboe; Victoria Miller, marimba; Tara Paarlberg, clarinet; Michael Pellom, marimba; Andrew Roembke, trumpet; Nikki Schreiner, flute; Patrick Watson, snare drum and marimba; and Nathan Williams, snare drum
    • Seniors: Leah Klinestiver, flute; Katie Smith, trumpet; and Gavin Stamper, French horn

    Five ensembles are also heading to the state finals:

    • Clarinet quintet: sophomore Hayden Bailey, senior Madeline Bovard, junior Holly Haney, sophomore Dayton Jennings, and junior Betsy McCleery
    • Woodwind trio: junior Jennifer McGowen, flute; junior Tara Paarlberg, clarinet; and senior Nicole Siefker, flute
    • Saxophone ensemble: sophomore T.J. Bass, junior Mary Barnett, sophomore Jacob Beck, junior Lindsey Bonfiglio, junior Emily Bostrom, sophomore Nate Davis, junior Matthew Rollo, and sophomore Sabrina Zeis
    • Trumpet trio: senior Badri Alvandhar, senior Coleman Anderson, and junior Andrew Roembke
    • Brass quintet: senior Badri Alvandhar, trumpet; sophomore Logan Moore, tuba; junior Andrew Roembke, trumpet; senior Gavin Stamper, French horn; and senior Collin Walsh, trombone


    Above: Junior Nikki Schreiner, sophomore Lauren Vest, and junior Sydney Blankenship wait to perform their flute trio. Because Lauren also had a winter guard competition that day, the girls needed to reschedule their performance to later in the afternoon.

    Below: Two band members (both juniors) also play orchestral instruments. Matthew Rollo (left) earned a gold rating for his Group II violin solo; he also played his baritone sax in the saxophone ensemble above. Will Kalvaitis (right) earned gold for his Group III string bass solo.







  • Guard member to join DCI band for summer

    Senior Dana Sutherlin will be performing with the Blue Knights drum and bugle corps this summer.

    Shortly before she headed out to California to perform with the Bands of America National Honor Band in the Rose Parade, Dana successfully auditioned with the Blue Knights in Denver.

    According to her mother, Patti, this was the only Drum Corps International (DCI) organization she auditioned with. "She thinks it's pretty cool that [the] Blue Knights was the first show/group she had really ever seen," Patti said in an email. "And that was several years ago, when Mt. Vernon hosted [the] Blue Knights while they were in Indy during their summer tour."

    Dana is currently captain of MVHS's varsity winter guard team. Patti said that during the winter guard season, Dana will watch videos to prepare for full ensemble camp at the end of April. She will join the Knights full-time after graduation. "Move-in is actually the weekend before graduation, but they are letting her do videos that first week until graduation is over," her mom said.

  • It's a busy week for the winter guard!

    The Mt. Vernon winter guard teams are starting their season off with a whoosh.

    Thursday at 7 p.m., all three teams--cadet guard, junior varsity, and varsity--will provide preview performances of their shows in the main gym. Two other teams from other schools will also perform.

    But that's just the beginning. This weekend, MVHS will host an Indiana High School Color Guard Association (IHSCGA) competition, and the entire band family is helping out. Students and parents have signed up to help with concessions, parking, hospitality, admissions, tabulation, and other important tasks.

    This is the first time Mt. Vernon has hosted a winter guard competition. "We know our school has an adequate layout to host a show, so we have requested to host over the past two years," Mr. Ellinger told his volunteers at a meeting Tuesday. "We were fortunate to be picked for 2017."

    Because this contest is run by the IHSCGA rather than as an open invitational, the Mt. Vernon teams can compete Saturday. The cadet guard performs in Cadet Class at 11 a.m., the junior varsity team at 11:49 a.m. in Divisional Regional A Class, and the varsity squad at 4:18 p.m. in Class A. GO MARAUDERS! 



  • Former Center Stage member makes 2017 State Fair queen's court!

    Ashley Fritz, a 2016 graduate of MVHS who performed with the Center Stage choir, was named third runner-up at the 2017 Indiana State Fair queen competition over the weekend.

    Ashley represented Hancock County after winning the crown at the Hancock County 4-H Fair's queen competition in June 2016. Becca Lax, representing Vanderburgh County, was crowned queen of the 2017 Indiana State Fair.

    You can find photos from the weekend's competition on the Indianapolis Star's website here (Ashley appears in photos #8, #10, and #21). The Greenfield Daily Reporter covers the story here. Fox59's website also has a short article about the competiton here.

    In the photo, Ashley is on the left.






  • Introducing the Snow Whirl senior king and queen candidates

    Introducing the Snow Whirl senior king and queen candidates

    Eight seniors have been nominated to compete for the titles of Queen and King of tomorrow night's annual Snow Whirl dance.

    Because the Snow Whirl is a fund-raiser for the music department, candidates must be in either choir or band.

    The queen candidates (above) are Emily Frost (band), Leah Klinestiver (band), Felicity Kratky (choir), and Katie Smith (band).

    The king candidates (below) are Malik Battee (choir), Trent Blankenship (band), Austin Jones (choir), and Collin Walsh (band).

    The King and Queen will be announced during the dance.

    The following underclassmen were chosen by their peers to serve as Princes and Princesses for their class during the dance:

    • Freshmen: Mallery McKeeman and Charles Livengood (both choir)
    • Sophomores: Sabrina Zeis and Logan Moore (both band)
    • Juniors: Tara Paarlberg (band) and Cody Smitley (choir)

    All princesses and queen candidates received a tiara to wear at school and during the dance.

  • Member of color guard and concert band is a Lilly Scholarship finalist!

    Shortly before Thanksgiving, Emily Frost found out that she was one of two Mt. Vernon seniors selected as finalists for the annual Lilly Scholarship.

    A member of the color and winter guards and the concert band's percussion section, Emily was selected with classmate Meg Schleter by the Hancock County Community Foundation (HCCF) to represent MVHS.

    Emily "is an extremely positive, optimistic, intelligent student," said Mr. Ellinger. "This award is a testament to her determination as a student."

    The HCCF selects two seniors from each of the four Hancock County high schools for the scholarship. To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must be ranked in the top 15 percent of their graduating class and plan to pursue a four-year degree at any accredited Indiana college or university. The winning candidate will receive full tuition to a four-year college and an annual book stipend paid by the Lilly Foundation.

    Her father, Mark, said that Emily plans to attend Anderson University to major in education. "She wants to be a high school teacher," he explained.

    According to the school district's website, Emily is ranked sixth in her class of 271 students. Besides band and color/winter guard, she's involved in the Book Club and the Lettuce Club, plus she serves as treasurer for the Spanish Club and the National Honor Society.

    Emily with her parents, Amy and Mark Frost, during Senior Night at the MVHS vs. New Castle game Sept. 30