Performing Arts Award

The Chris Patterson Memorial Foundation is excited to announce the 2021 recipients of the Chris Patterson Performing Arts Award.

West Aurora High School

From West Aurora High School, the recipient was Allison Tremaine!

The Winning Submission

Stillness. In spite of all of the performances, bonding sessions, and rehearsals; the stillness of walking back to your car resting under the streetlamp of an empty parking lot gave me one of the most surreal feelings I have ever experienced. One that can only be achieved by waking up at 5 am, going to school, stressing about when you’re going to find the time to do your AP homework, and staying until 11 pm after a disastrous first day of tech week. While being involved in stage crew, wind symphony, marching band, and pep band; I’ve grown accustomed to a rigorous schedule. The time management skills I’ve gained over the years have helped not only maintain my grades as I do the things, I love but have also kept me from losing my sanity. Especially on the Fridays when I had crew after school, a football game after that, and a paper on The Crucible due the same night.

With covid, the days melted together. Without being able to rehearse like we normally do, my appreciation for the fine arts surfaced as I came to realize that it is the reason many students find the motivation to go to school and have their work done for class. With the monotony of sitting at home typing on the computer for 8 hours a day, thank goodness marching band drilled a sense of discipline into me. Otherwise, I am fairly certain I would not have the grades I do right now. While I don’t miss practicing slides or run-on-step in 90-degree weather, the mental and physical discipline from marching band did come in handy when I was about to have a break-down over the sea of AP Physics work I had to do at the end of Junior year when the lockdown began.

The one overarching theme I’ve found that can reach every area of the fine arts is that time passes, but family stays. I had been asked before a football game by a reporter from the school newspaper, “what is one word that describes the fine arts”, and I of course said “family” She laughed and told me about how every person she interviewed had given her the same answer. Since most of the students in the AP programs are also in the fine arts, it was very easy to translate that sense of community to a classroom environment. Since we all knew each other, it made my learning experience so much easier because I didn’t have to deal with the anxiety of meeting and trying to get along with new people.

To think I wouldn’t have met so many more of these amazing people if I hadn’t been scared into joining stage crew. Yes. Scared; by my trumpet section leader my freshman year to be exact (who would later play Seymour in our production of Little Shop that spring). The connections and motivations that the fine arts give me to do well in school are what have gotten me through my last four years at West. And when I close my eyes and see my car in the distance, bathed under the warm light of that streetlamp, I will remember the friendships, heartaches, laughter, and tears that allowed me to achieve academic success thanks to the fine arts.

Batavia High School

From Batavia High School, the recipient was Alexander Holzman!

The Winning Submission

Most nights before the pandemic, after everyone else had gone home, you would have found me still at school if you peeked in practice room F. It is so rare to get a moment to play music alone, with no one else listening in—no audience and no expectations from anyone else—and I took advantage of every one of those opportunities. Being in performing arts has taught me not to take chances for granted, among other things, shaping me and who I am today.

Whether it is when I play flute in band class, or piano for myself, I know I am where I belong. There is a bond that cannot be broken. I pour not just my effort but also my emotions into music—fear, anger, sadness, and hope—and it gives me satisfaction in return.

Music has brought me out of my middle-school bubble. When I first started high school, I was nervous, awkward, and, honestly, a little antisocial. A grueling marching band repertoire of 8-hour practices, 6 days a week did most of the work for me. Standing side by side, day in, and day out, with 100 kids for a whole summer? We could not help but bond. Before my freshman year, I would never have expected to go to an escape room and a hiking trip with anyone, much less the 5 flutists that became my closest friends.

In marching band, our competition scores are not just based on the group as a whole, but also focused on individuals. Therefore, in practice, everyone constantly focuses on ways to get better—and your friends or leaders will help correct you when you mess up or when there’s a really difficult part of a show. However, they will not truly catch the smaller details unless you actively mention it. By being in marching band, I learned how to ask for help, rather than waiting for people to help me. When I am in class and do not understand something, I am now confident enough in my own ability that I can turn and admit to a friend that I do not get it and ask them to explain.

Band also underscored the value of self-reliance. Mr. Owen and BVK, my band directors, would always mention “Rule number 9” in the midst of a school concert or marching band competition. Everyone recited it as soon as it came up: “Figure it out!” No one else was going to hold me accountable—I had to hold myself accountable. One time, we were at a football game and had left the field to warm up. Horrified, I realized that I left my hat on the bench in the rush off the field, but it was too late. So, I waited until we entered again and were watching the cheer team’s performance happen ahead of us. I quickly ran and grabbed my hat. This newfound sense of independence that I had transferred over to my classes as well—I did not need someone supervising me for when I did poorly on an assignment or test because I was already looking ahead at the next steps and how to improve. I figured it out.

Like individual notes joining to create a song, music has come together in many ways throughout my life, playing a crucial part in shaping my expectations, my personality, and whom I choose to be.

East Aurora High School

From East Aurora High School, the recipient was Alan Terrazas!

The Winning Submission

Participating in the performing arts ended up being more beneficial than I anticipated when I first picked up the alto saxophone in fifth grade. Back then, I used to believe that being part of my school’s concert band would only be something to enjoy on the side while I focused on school. However, when I began to take it seriously in high school, it became a whole different story due to the fact that we now had auditions. My personal drive and my rigorous practicing in order to be, and remain, in the top bands ended up helping me improve my quick-thinking abilities, explanation skills, and motivation which proved beneficial in the core classes I took in high school.

Being able to think quickly and critically is a skill that every musician should have. The ability to recognize, prepare, and react to the rhythms as quickly and accurately as possible is critical in either a sight-read or a change in music during rehearsal. Having been doing this for several years helped me greatly in my math and science courses. In these classes there are usually, a lot of material and concepts to cover within a unit meaning they are often fast-paced and usually have a lot of content in their exams. When confronted with a problem, I would quickly recognize what it was asking, I was able to plan the equations necessary, and finally, write everything down. It was because of the quick-thinking skills that were strengthened in the concert band, tests in these courses were a lot easier to complete while still being highly accurate.

Whenever we did not pick up our instruments, we had writing assignments that focused on how a section of music felt and how their musical elements helped enforce that feeling. We developed arguments to prove our claims, similar to how most languages and history courses developed arguments. When working on these assignments, I tried to be as descriptive as possible as music can often be difficult to interpret. This benefited my language and history courses when it came to writing argumentative essays as I would try to use the evidence I found to their full use and explain them thoroughly to help prove my claim. This is shown in my AP test scores as I managed to pass both the English Language and U.S. history exams with a 5 and a 4. If it wasn’t for those assignments, my writing abilities would not be as heightened as they are today.

My motivation took a toll between my sophomore and junior year due to a surgery that I had over the summer. Once I physically healed, the marching band season was only one week away. I hadn’t mentally healed before the marching season began however, little by little I began to feel better and better. Marching with my friends and performing with them helped me get out of my stump and start remembering all of the reasons why I kept pushing forward every day. Being on that field and rehearsing drills got me active again and helped me feel better about myself. I felt so much more motivated that at the end of the year I decided to run for drum major and eventually obtain the position. I would have done my absolute best as drum major if the pandemic didn’t occur. Coming back after my surgery I wasn’t too excited at first, but once I arrived, I felt much better. Being out there helped return my drive to keep improving not only my musicality but in my education and in life as well.

As I mentioned before, being in the performing arts helped me increase my quick thinking, explanation skills, as well as my motivation which led to a benefit for all non-music-related courses. Without the aid of my concert band courses over the past four years, I would not be this well of a student nor be this well a musician. As a result, I see myself going to a four-year college next year and beginning my studies to become a pediatrician where I can put the abilities I gained into full use.

Kaneland High School

From Kaneland High School, the recipient was Maxine Ocampo!

The Winning Submission

Being involved with the performing arts all throughout high school has greatly assisted me in my core educational classes. This is because being a part of the arts program has helped me come out of my shell and express myself more. Back when I was a freshman, I was a pretty quiet kid who mostly kept to herself. However, after four years of participating in marching band, winter percussion, percussion ensemble, and seven theater productions, I can confidently say that I am not the same shy student that I used to be. By being more comfortable and open with my band and theater families, I started to gain more confidence in myself, which in turn helped me be a more active student during my day-to-day classes. I started being more involved in class discussions, became more open to collaborating with other students when it came to classwork, and took more initiative in group projects than I previously would. My leadership skills are also another reason for this, as I have greatly improved upon these skills from being given leadership roles in theater, such as student director and stage manager. By being placed in these positions, I learned how to take control over certain situations when needed and how to properly lead a group of people. I also learned what type of leader I strive to be, which is someone who takes care of those they are responsible for and makes sure that nobody feels left out in any way. After growing into a more active student who is more confident in herself and more open to communicating and connecting with others, I currently feel ready to take on the next chapter of my life beyond high school, and I have the performing arts to thank for that.

Geneva Community High School

From Geneva Community High School, the recipient was Hannah Bolender!

The Winning Submission

The impact on Music in my Education

At age six, I attended my first violin lesson, slowly learning the building blocks to becoming the musician that I am today. My teacher was strict but taught me to strive for my best. In the seventh grade, I participated in my first youth symphony. There, we dissected Dvorak’s New World Symphony by its “chapters”, articulating the colors and emotions that the music communicated. In taking music theory for the first time, math finally felt applicable. As a teacher with six violin students, I’ve learned the value of education firsthand, and how to cater a lesson to the best of a student’s needs.

These music concepts flowed directly into academic strengths, and I found myself using the same tools in high school. I studied in the same way that I learned a piece, made use of auditory and visual techniques, and never hesitated to ask for clarification. More specifically, the learning curve of violin has taught me how to tackle physics with patience and practices Symphony rehearsals taught me the value of deep analysis that I now carry through my passion for literature and writing. It has driven my interest in the government, and I hope to carry that through law school. My participation in school orchestra, music theory classes, and community arts programs has left me a toolbox of resources, ultimately making me a strong, confident, and articulate voice in my community.