Spoto High School Band members aren’t tooting their own horns about how great they are – Superintendent Jeff Eakins is doing it for them. The band is celebrating a major music milestone.
“It’s the first time in six years that the Spoto Band has achieved a Superior rating at the Florida Bandmasters Association competition, so I was extremely proud of that as a former band student myself,” said Superintendent Jeff Eakins. The superintendent used to play the trombone.
Superintendent Eakins, School Board Chair Sally Harris, and Area 5 Superintendent Dr. Michelle Fitzgerald visited the band’s practice to honor the accomplishment.
Every year, The Florida Bandmasters Association evaluates school band programs throughout the state.
“It takes a lot of practice, a lot of energy, and when you get the results, you have to celebrate. I wanted to come out to help celebrate,” Superintendent Eakins told the students.
Spoto’s Band, led by Director Jon Crane, received the Superior rating on the Marching Music Performance Assessment, which is based on music, general effect, visual aesthetic, percussion and guard.
“Mr. Crane, who is our band director here, puts it all on the line every day for his students. For his students to do an amazing job on the day of the performance, you only get a shot, one shot. They performed and got the results, finally – a Superior. I’m very, very proud of them,” said Superintendent Eakins.
Sophomore Isaias Martinez was the featured trumpet soloist during the performance. He also received a Superior rating. Martinez is a member of the Hillsborough County All-County Band. He was a nominated member of the State High School Honor Band at the Florida Music Education Association convention and boasts a 4.8 GPA. Superintendent Eakins applauded Martinez’s talents in front of his classmates.
“The soloist we wanted to come to recognize, because that’s a lot of pressure that he has, the weight on his shoulders for the entire band during those performances,” Superintendent Eakins said.
“It was very exciting and very nerve-racking, because I knew there were people there, and if I messed up they were going to hear it. I was going to be the one kids who screwed up the solo. Thank God I wasn’t,” said Martinez.
It’s been a good year for The Spartan Marching Band. At the Newsome High Marching Arts Festival, the band had a second place finish and the Color Guard took home first place.
“We support the arts here in Hillsborough County. Their hard work is reaping some huge benefits for themselves personally, but also a great reputation for a school like Spoto, so I’m extremely proud of that,” Superintendent Eakins said.
The superintendent believes the benefits of band carry on well-beyond students’ high school years.
“Band offers a lot of those other skills that you’re looking for in the future, whether it’s a post-secondary student in college, in the workforce,” said Superintendent Eakins. “You have to budget your time appropriately. You’re one instrument, but you have to come together as an entire band, and that’s going to carry on when they move out of Spoto onto post-secondary and into the workforce.”
Martinez’s love of music started in sixth grade. He said band has already made a huge impact on his life and is proud to be a part of this Spoto team.
“It’s a great opportunity to meet new people, to have new experiences that if you’re not in it, you’re never going to have them. It’s something really special in band and being part of a family,” said Martinez.
Spoto is joined by several other HCPS High School bands that received a Superior rating this year: Alonso, Bloomingdale, Brandon, Chamberlain, Durant, Gaither, Hillsborough, King, Middleton, Newsome, Plant, Riverview, Robinson, Sickles, Steinbrenner, Strawberry Crest, and Wharton.
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