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Thirteen Sycamore High School students were selected to participate in the 2017 Illinois Music Education (ILMEA) Conference recently held at the Peoria Civic Center in Peoria, Illinois. Sycamore High School has been represented at the prestigious All-State Conference numerous times and Sycamore again has one of the largest contingents in the state of All-State musicians in attendance. This year, Sycamore High School had the 17th largest All-State music student representation of any high school in Illinois. Students were selected via a rigorous audition process from the district ILMEA festival held earlier this year. Illinois has 9 districts throughout the state, and each district was able to send their top students to be represented at this All-State Conference. Scott Mertens, Sycamore School District Music Department Chair comments, “The all-state music experience is unlike any other musical experience.  Students from the entire state come together, are placed into performing ensembles, and put together a concert of challenging music in less than three days.  It is a unique and exciting opportunity for high school musicians that they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

All-State musicians were treated to a special rally as they departed for the weekend festival. Fellow students, faculty, and family gathered in the Choir Room for a brief send-off. Scott Mertens comments in a brief speech, “These students were not selected for All-State just because of their talent, but also because of their dedication and choice to spend extra time practicing the audition music. They chose to do something, and do it well.” He also acknowledged the private teachers of these students and their parents and families for their unending support. Upon departure, the SHS Band played the School Song and they received a special escort including celebratory lights and sirens provided by the Sycamore Police Department. We are very proud of these student’s accomplishments and representation of Sycamore High School and Community School District #427.

Congratulations to the following students from Sycamore High School who have the distinguished honor of being selected for All-State:

All-State Honors Band: Ryan Loitz

All-State Band:  Brett Brancato, Madeline Kessler, Gracia Watson

All-State Honors Choir:  Trevor McDonald

All-State Choir:  Kelsie Kruskol, Anna McComb, Alice Mesjak

All-State Honors Orchestra:  Kjelden Breidenbach, Evan Jacobs, Bret Reser

All-State Orchestra:  Julia Luo, Matthew Rogers


Bret Reser placed 7th, Evan Jacobs placed 10th, Kjelden Breidenbach placed 19th, and Ryan Loitz placed the 5th highest score overall in Illinois in their respective Honors ensembles. In addition, Brett Brancato placed 1st, Gracia Watson placed 2nd, Matt Rogers placed 3rd, Madeline Kessler placed 5th, and Julia Luo placed 15th overall in their respective All State ensembles. (Side note–Honors Choir doesn’t have chair placement information.)

During the festival weekend, participants attended numerous rehearsals, attended workshops, panel discussions and master classes, and performed a concert at the Peoria Civic Center.  The opportunity for students and staff to attend this festival was made possible by the Sycamore Music Boosters. Profits from their annual fundraisers are dedicated to support the students and staff of Sycamore music students.

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