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San Carlos Schools June 20, 2008

Central Middle School Hits a High Note

by Chuck Gillooley


API scores are probably a good measure of how well a particular school takes tests, and a decent indicator the quality of the curriculum that’s in place. And San Carlos Schools certainly score well every year on the API Tests. But these tests are very objective and certainly won’t give you a read on the “pulse” of a school…or in this case, the “beat.” And Central Middle School has quite a beat going on…

Central Middle School’s music program is easily one of the biggest success stories at a school that has lots of success stories to brag about. With over 220 students participating either the Symphonic Band, Concert Band, and/or the Jazz Band, the program is larger than most high school programs in the area. And the program seems to get bigger every year.

But its road to greatness wasn’t without a few bumps and potholes. Up until the past year, the music program at Central had been growing nicely under the enthusiastic command of Gennie Conley, who was immensely popular with the students. But last fall, Ms. Conley announced that she was returning back home to Texas for personal reasons, leaving the kids stunned and saddened at the news, and the program’s future up in the air. The school scrambled to find a replacement Director who could keep the momentum going. Whoever was going to step into this role had some mighty big shoes to fill.

The school district recruited Kristin Kunzelman as the new Band Director this past fall — she relocated from Colorado to take the reins of the program, and they couldn’t have picked a better person to save the day. She enthusiastically jumped right and bonded with the students, and then proceeded to push all three bands to new heights in enthusiasm and performance. The kids really like her, and you can tell the feeling is mutual from their website:

Central Middle School Band Website

Note that she still roots for the Colorado Avalanche, so she’s not perfect — but we’re confident that she’ll soon join the Dark Side and become a Sharks fan 🙂

The band performed in numerous events this year, including Hometown Days, where they won the Best Band Award over all other bands in the parade (including the high schools!!) They also conducted several outstanding concerts at Central this year, where they performed a diverse range of pieces from Mozart to Deep Purple. No cream-puff assignments here!

So if you have an aspiring musician who is heading toward middle school, there’s an outstanding program waiting for you at CMS. As they say at CMS, “LET’S GO BAND!”


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  • Kristin was kind enough to email in some additional highlights and achievements of the band this year. They are (but not limited to!) —

    — Central won “Best Overall” in the ENTIRE Hometown Days parade 🙂 Best out of any float, not just the bands!
    — The Symphonic Band earned a “Unanimous Superior” at the CMEA Festival – which is the very top rating a band can earn (this was a big deal)
    — A number of students participated in the CMEA Solo and Ensemble Contest, and two of our students – Andrew Licko and Evan Schulz – earned the “Command Performance” award which means they were invited to participate in a special performance at the festival.
    — Two of our students – Nico Scolieri and Frances Welsh – are currently in China, touring with the Peninsula Youth Prep Orchestra
    — I won a grant from the Prudential Realty Education Foundation
    — We competed in the KFOX School of Rock Contest — and SHOULD have won 🙂

    I told you they were good…

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