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Lakeridge High School Jazz Ensemble wins 6A State Championship for the first time

COURTESY PHOTO - Lakeridge High Schools jazz ensemble poses after winning the state championship.Lakeridge High School jazz musicians were recently recognized for their hard work and commitment to the craft in a big way, winning the 6A State Championship May 23.

The jazz ensemble was led to the win by Band Director Chris McCurdy, who said claiming first place in state was a validation of the hard work his students have put in all year long.

"I can't express how lucky I am to be teaching (these) students," he said. "They have committed themselves to learning the art form and I'm so proud that they were able to put it all together for the state finals."

According to McCurdy's research, this is the first state band championship in Lakeridge High School history. He attributes the win to his

students supporting each other.

"I love the communication that the ensemble has during performances. They are so obviously excited for their peers to do well and I love seeing their faces when a friend plays something they enjoy," he said. "It's truly a communal art form and I'm so happy to see them enjoy playing."COURTESY PHOTO - Lakeridges jazz ensemble performs.

Cian Whalen, a senior at Lakeridge, said being in the jazz ensemble is extremely important to him. "Comparing to what it felt like to be in this group as a sophomore to where we are now, there's a huge growth there," he said. "I like seeing how far we've come."

Senior Michael Rodenkirch said he was surprised to win state, because that wasn't the ensemble's main focus this year. "We just wanted to play with style together, and this was just a byproduct of that," he said.

Patrick Dakin, a junior at Lakeridge, said he has learned valuable lessons from the band director.

"Mr. McCurdy always says 'It's always more fun to be good,' and winning state just means we had the most fun possible," he said.

McCurdy said winning state felt great, but he also enjoyed hearing other schools' performances. "I had a great time listening to all of the phenomenal ensembles throughout the state," he said. "My favorite group of the whole festival was the David Douglas High School jazz band. Jennifer Brooks-Muller is such a fantastic teacher and I really look up to her groups and the sound they produce."

Senior Peter Cooley liked the competition for similar reasons. "I think it's cool to compete at the state level because you're surrounded by people who appreciate the art form," he said. "It was just awesome to be around them all day."

Rohan Meyers said his favorite part of being in Lakeridge's jazz ensemble is the camaraderie. "We're already a tight knit group outside of school, but it's even more fun to support your friends as they're soloing or playing next to you," the senior said. "I wish more bands and groups got to experience that."

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