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Making music and friends at Scecina's East Deanery Band Festival

Young musicians from Our Lady of Lourdes, Holy Spirit and Little Flower Catholic schools joins Scecina's band members to play a concert in Scecina's gym on Feb. 1.

By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications

Making music together is the theme of the day at Scecina’s annual East Deanery Band Festival each February during Catholic Schools Week. 

For the whole school day, middle school musicians (and future Crusaders!) from Scecina’s East Deanery partner schools meet in small groups, learn from peers and pros, and discover what it means to be a part of the Scecina band family. They work tirelessly to prepare and perfect the music. They eat lunch and dinner at the school and get a chance to socialize with students from other East Deanery schools. At the end of the day, they perform in concert in front of their family and friends. 

Chris Ritchie, Scecina's Music Director, organized the East Deanery Band Festival. 

“Though we expect a lot from our students performance-wise, we also hope they will enjoy what they are doing and have fun along the way!” said Chris Ritchie, Scecina’s Music Director. 

Music and, more specifically, band are Ritchie’s passions. He started playing music when he was 8 and got an electric bass. In fifth grade, he picked up the clarinet and then learned the other band instruments while at college. 

Ritchie, in his first year at Scecina, organized this year’s band festival, which took place Feb. 1. Eighty-six students from Holy Spirit, Little Flower, and Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic schools, as well as 36 Scecina band students, took part. 

“I am so happy to start bringing my talents and personal touch to the East Deanery Band Festival,” said Ritchie. “I have a personal saying that goes like this, ‘If you’re in band you don’t have to worry about finding friends, you already have dozens.’ ” 

Scecina sophomore Emma Gedig volunteered to help with the band festival. She remembers coming to Scecina for the band festival while she was a student at Little Flower Catholic School.

“We really looked forward to it because we got to see our friends as well as meet new people,” said Gedig. 

Senior Regina Forster, a French horn player in Scecina’s band, took part in the festival as a student at Our Lady of Lourdes. 

“It was fun and we always learned new music,” she said. “I remember one year we played the music from the movie ‘How to Train Your Dragon.’ ” 

While at Scecina, she has taken part in festival all four years, helping the younger students. 

“They look up to us,” she said. “I got a lot of questions about fingering (of the French horn).” 

Ritchie thanks the partner schools’ music directors: Gabe Elam, Little Flower; Rachel Howard, Holy Spirit; and Jennifer Murrell, Our Lady of Lourdes. Some Marian University music faculty also helped out: Brent Hornaday, trumpets; Jim Bertucci, low brass; Mackenzie West, Saxophone; Abby Vanleer, clarinet; and Emily Jefferson, flute. James Larner, Ph.D., and chair of Marian University's Music Department, attended the evening concert.

Not only does the festival bring children together, said Ritchie, “I also think that it has made the East Deanery family stronger as a whole.” 

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