Five from Warren Central headed to Lions Band contest

Published 12:12 pm Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Five Warren Central High School students will head to Australia this summer with the Mississippi Lions All-State Band to compete for a 27th international title. The Mississippi group’s last victory was in 2009 in Minneapolis.

Participating in the June 29 contest in Sydney will be graduating seniors Della Loflin, the daughter of Russ Loflin and Susan Johnston; Elizabeth Ogle, the daughter of Harry and Vickie Ogle; Aliesha Phillips, the daughter of Henry Phillips and Stephanie Combs; and Trey Mathes, the daughter of Harvey and Sandy Mathes; and rising junior Caley Barela, the daughter of Clinton and Felicia Barela.

The 145-piece band is made up of high-performing band students from across Mississippi. Selection is based on a rigorous audition process. Around 900 tried out.

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Della, who plays the French horn, said she has become a much better musician during her four years in the band.

“You’re exposed to all this music and all of these directors and you get so much feedback,” she said, “so it’s really rewarding.”

Elizabeth, part of the color guard and a third-year participant, said she looks forward to spending time with fellow band members.

“We get to be with people that we’re only with for two weeks, and we get to enjoy company with people that we don’t see a lot — but they wind up becoming lifetime friends,” she said. “It really is all about the experience, not so much the trip itself.”

Aliesha, who plays flute and has been in the band for three years, said the experience has “helped me grow as a person, especially from a musical standpoint.”

This is Caley’s and Trey’s first year to play with the state band.

The Mississippi Lions All-State Band was founded 61 years ago and is sponsored by Lions Club International, a service organization. The Vicksburg chapter donated $500 each to the five students for the trip to Sydney.

Lions Band Director Jeff Cannon said he tries to get the students to be the best they can be.

“We don’t focus on winning and losing,” said Cannon, who’s been a band director at Pearl High School for 22 years, involved with the Lions Band for 17 and state director for three. “We focus on the pursuit of excellence.”

Cannon said the Warren Central members are always top notch.

“These kids are great, hardworking and very polite,” Cannon said. “They’re the epitome of what Lions Band students should be.”