‘You’re never alone in music’

Raider Concert Band, All-County Band on stage at Arts Alive!

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo gallery
* Speeches: ^ Blake ^ MacKenzie ^ Kaying ^ Destiny ^ Tyler
* Videos – ^ Raider percussion ^ RCS MS Band by Chad Osborne

HAMLET — Michele Days and her daughter, 7-year-old Rose Armstrong, are making themselves at home in Richmond County.

They moved here seven months ago from Atlanta when Days’ job was transferred to the area. Her son, Townsend, is an eighth-grader at Rockingham Middle School. She wanted him to play the saxophone. He declined. Townsend told his mother he wanted to play the trumpet.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Raider percussionists Angelis Hernandez (student director), Cameron Mabe and Alec Rushing nearly stole the show with a paint bucket rendition of "Rin Tin Tin."

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Raider percussionists Angelis Hernandez (student director), Cameron Mabe and Alec Rushing nearly stole the show with a paint bucket rendition of “Rin Tin Tin.”

“That was his instrument of choice,” Days said. “He was adamant about playing the trumpet.”

The decision was a good one for Townsend, who joined 55 other county middle school students on stage Thursday night at Cole Auditorium for Arts Alive!, a celebration of creative and performing arts for students of all ages across Richmond County. The celebration continues with the All-County Choral Concert at 7 p.m. Friday, also at Cole Auditorium.

The evening began with a showcase gallery featuring artwork from students in elementary through high school inside the Cole Auditorium lobby. Approximately 887 student entries — from painting to pencil drawing, from ceramic pottery to 3-D, from animals to people and from superheroes to agricultural subjects — were on display for concertgoers’ approval and admiration.

Emmaleigh Hoffman, of Cordova, was eager to share hr ceramic pottery creation. Guided by Diane Strickland at East Rockingham Elementary, Emmaleigh explained that she “took some clay and (her teacher) put it in a bakery. The next time we came to art, we got to paint it.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Emmaleigh Hoffman, of Cordova, admires the artwork of other students on display at Cole Auditorium.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Emmaleigh Hoffman, of Cordova, admires the artwork of other students on display at Cole Auditorium.

Then Strickland again put the artwork in the kiln. After the showcase, Strickland told her students they could take them home.

“She said that you can’t eat out of it or drink from it,” Emmaleigh passed along.

Regardless of its future use, parents Duane and Leigh, along with big brother Wade, were quite proud. But it doesn’t end there. The project has inspired Leigh to participate in a sip-and-paint Arts Abuzz at The Hive Recreation Center on Friday. She’s nervous, but excited.

“You don’t paint by number,” Leigh said.

She realized, however, that however her painting turned out, it’d be unique; it’d be hers.

“Art is art,” Leigh said. Each painter might start from the same picture, but each person’s individual perception and imagination can leave as many different interpretations as there are paint brushes in the room.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Susan Ricks takes a photo of RSHS senior and son Caleb before the concert begins.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Susan Ricks takes a photo of RSHS senior and son Caleb before the concert begins.

Susan Ricks realizes something else. The mother of Richmond Senior 12th-grader Caleb Ricks is running out of time to create keepsakes and record his milestone moments. So it was within her natural flow to whip out her smartphone and take a picture of Caleb by one of his pieces of art hanging on the wall. The senior plans to attend UNC-Pembroke in the fall and pursue a degree in music with electives in business. He aspires to produce music.

On Thursday night, though, he was focused primarily on his role of playing the flute for the Raider Concert Band. Ricks and several other high school students had helped mentor their younger counterparts during a day-long rehearsal at Cole Auditorium in preparation for the group’s first time playing on stage together.

That type of experience can make people forge lasting relationships. It has for Blake Bartlett. The percussionist from Hamlet Middle School said she’s grown up in a musical family — one sister was a Raider drum major, another sister in color guard and a brother in percussion — but it’s more than that.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

“The band is my family,” she said. “Band creates a feeling nothing else can. Even if members have just met it is similar to hugging your Great Aunt Sylvia who you met as an infant.”

Ellerbe Middle School Kaying Vang agreed.

“You’re never alone in music,” Kaying said. “I have horrible days and I don’t want to speak … and music speaks for me. It shows what I want to express. That’s what music means to me.”

One of five students to speak at the podium, Bartlett reminded the audience, comprised mostly of parents, family members and school district officials, that they were still learning.

“Please be mindful of this, and clap even if we make a mistake,” Bartlett said.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com From left to right, band directors Pam Ollis (Rohanen Middle School), Phyllis Lupo (Hamlet Middle School), Curtis Swallow (Rockingham Middle School) and Erin McNair (Ellerbe Middle School) were recognized for their efforts.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
From left to right, band directors Pam Ollis (Rohanen Middle School), Phyllis Lupo (Hamlet Middle School), Curtis Swallow (Rockingham Middle School) and Erin McNair (Ellerbe Middle School) were recognized for their efforts.

Filed in: Arts & Entertainment, Education, Ellerbe/Norman, Featured News, Hamlet, Hoffman, Latest Headlines, Rockingham

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