They snagged the best ratings while playing jazz and singing classic tunes.

Students at multiple high schools in the county received gold at Indiana State School Music Association events in the marching band and small ensemble contests.

Four local high schools have earned the ISSMA All-Music award for either their band or choir department.

And Greenwood Community High School was one of 13 schools statewide to earn the coveted All-Music Total Department Award, which is given to high school music departments that hit milestones in both their band and choirs.

Center Grove High School, Franklin Community High School and Whiteland Community High School each earned the All-Music award for their band departments.

Clark-Pleasant Middle School and Franklin Community Middle School earned the All-Music award in band. Greenwood Community Middle School earned it for choir.

Awards are given annually by ISSMA to each choir, band and orchestra department who hits milestones, usually a gold rating, at multiple ISSMA events through the year in a variety of music types.

For example, schools that earn the award must earn a gold rating in competitions varying from a marching band performance, a soloist and an ensemble.

The goal of giving the award is to recognize band and choir departments that excel in multiple areas. And the All-Department award recognizes schools that reached the criteria in both band and music, said Pete Sampson, Whiteland Community High School’s band director and an ISSMA board member.

“It shows that the programs who receive this have a balanced and well rounded program,” said Sampson. “In the philosophy of music education, you want your kids to be exposed to all different kinds of music.”

Greenwood Community High School was the only county school to win the All-Department award and has won the award every year since 2014, Greenwood band director John Morse said.

About 350 students at Greenwood play in a band or sing in a choir, which is a third of the school’s population, Morse said.

Getting the award is a goal every year, because earning the gold ratings at each needed event is something that the whole department strives for, he said.

“We really try and present a lot of opportunities and a balanced approach to our music program at Greenwood so students get a variety of experiences,” Morse said. “It is an indicator that we are giving students high quality opportunities in a variety of things.”

Earning the All-Music award in any department takes hundreds of students working together and doing what they are meant to do, Sampson said.

“If we do what we are supposed to do, the award takes care of itself,” he said.

Students in Greenwood Community High School’s music department work during class to help perfect what they need to do to earn gold ratings at events, choir director Daniel Borns said.

Work outside of school helps clinch the ratings and could contribute to the award, he said.

“You have to prepare for all the different contests you have,” Borns said. “I am certain that some (students) practice an additional five hours through the week, if not more.”

Author photo
Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2770.