AHPS Drumming Up Enthusiasm for Music

AHPS Drumming Up Enthusiasm for Music Programs
Posted on 02/10/2023



AHPS Drumming Up Enthusiasm for Band, Choir Programs

LOW MOOR — Teachers in Alleghany Highlands Public Schools are creatively drumming up enthusiasm for band and choir programs with full consolidation of schools coming in the fall.


The main goal is to reinvigorate and grow student interest in band and choral programs at the secondary schools, and carry the momentum into the fall. In the upcoming 2023-2024 school year, students will attend one high school, housed at the current Alleghany High School building in Valley Ridge, and one middle school, housed in the current Covington High School building.


The Alleghany Highlands Public Schools Division was established on July 1, 2022, when Alleghany County Public Schools, Covington City Public Schools, and Jackson River Technical Center merged. 


“We want to expand on opportunities that were already present in both school systems prior to this year and create new and much-needed opportunities,” said Benjamin Snedegar, who teaches music and chorus at Clifton Middle School.


With student participation in band and choral programs still on the rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, Snedegar is working to spark new interest by collaborating with music teachers throughout Alleghany Highlands Public Schools. He has worked closely with Amanda Sprouse, Adam Eggleston, Kaitlyn Peters, and Molly Dimint. Peters teaches band and choral music at Covington High School. Sprouse and Eggleston teach at AHS. Dimint serves as a music teacher at Jeter-Watson Elementary School. She has been working to build the AHPS music programs by increasing student participation in grades 6-7.  Sprouse was recently named as the choral director of the joint high school in the fall; Eggleston was named marching band director. 


“We have had a number of meetings with all music teachers from all AHPS schools and have had tremendous support from our administrators in executing a plan we created at the beginning of this year to meet our goals,” Snedegar said.


The teachers’ strategy has included exposing elementary and middle school students to musical performances by ensembles at Covington High School and Alleghany High School. In January, students were treated to a performance by a jazz ensemble from Davidson College in North Carolina where the importance of music programming was also emphasized.  


“We think that often students have a hard time knowing what they are interested in pursuing as far as electives and extracurricular activities are concerned and giving them a glimpse into what goes on can help them in making that decision. This is of paramount importance especially leading up to the sixth and ninth grades,” Snedegar said.


There are also winter percussion and winter color guard groups that are designed to “bridge the gap” between fall marching band seasons. Students from AHS and CHS were invited to be part of both groups as a means of expanding their skills and building friendships. 


“This is something to keep the kids working and building chops and strength over the winter months so that we can build towards a competitive marching band season. Winter guard and winter percussion are two separate activities, but they are both popular nationwide and are growing in popularity across the region. This is something we are hoping to continue for years to come. We are not competing this year, but if we are able to continue this in the future, we would like to compete regionally,” Snedegar said.


The percussion and color guard groups performed on Jan. 30 during a special event celebrating the new cougar mascot design at Jackson River Technical Center. The Alleghany High School Cougars mascot was unveiled during the ceremony in preparation for students from AHS and CHS attending one high school in the fall.


The performance by the percussion and color guard groups showcased how AHPS is already providing students with new opportunities in the classroom and through extra-curricular activities.  


“We are so pleased that our teams are working to create new and deeper opportunities for students across academics, arts, CTE courses, and athletics,” said Kim Halterman and Melinda Snead-Johnson, leaders of AHPS. “By combining staff expertise, student talents, student interests, and financial resources, we are able to gain efficiencies and experiences.”


Alleghany Highlands Public Schools serves approximately 2,700 students in Alleghany County and the City of Covington. The school division is jointly funded by both facilities. AHPS activities can be followed on Facebook at AHPublicSchools.





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