SWD Band Family,
Again, we have come to the end of another wonderful band year. We have a lot to celebrate. Itís always good to reflect on time gone by, both the good times and not- so good times
(EVERYONE has both in their lives). First and foremost, congratulations go to the 2006-2007 Southwest Dekalb High School Band. You all have definitely had a year in which to be proud.
To the 2006-2007 SWD Band Leaders, you accepted and performed your duties with skill and precision. Of course you know that none of us are perfect, but your virtuous ability to take criticism and a firm tongue lashing from the staff gained our admiration. Our tradition of leadership was definitely upheld and elevated by your performance. Itís impressive to see young people that have a desire to lead in a positive situation such as we have in the SWD Band. Of course you all are aware of the negative that surrounds us and catches up to some of us. The character that our leaders display should be a model for all youths in our community
Our band year kicked off rather quick this passed year. We had a fairly major performance that we accepted in
The football season had us seeing great teams and bands. One thing that should be stated about bands in our area is that bands have relationships not rivals. We prepare intensely for all games, halftime shows and stand performances, but at the conclusion, we recognize and acknowledge the other bands. Both the directors and the students have relationships that come from our many encounters, be it games, band camps, honor bands, or simply and most importantly, being friends.
We have great trips this year to
Our big disappointment was a result of one of our biggest anticipations. The SWD Band accepted an invitation to perform in
The spring semester began with our top musicians auditioning for the Georgia Music Educators Association All-State Band. We placed a total of 35 students in the GMEA District IV Honor Band, once again the highest number in the district. We also had three students to make the GMEA All-State Band. The three concert bands we took to festival all received straight superior ratings. Their performances were outstanding. Even more impressive, the support that the parents and students showed for each otherís performance was great. More than just an evaluation, our festival performances had the atmosphere of a concert.
The spring band camp was very successful. With 340-plus in attendance, we put in some hard work and LONG evenings in preparation for the Metro Atlanta Spring Band JamBoree. It all paid off as we, once again, put on a classic performance.
Iíd like to congratulate the senior class of 2007 on a very successful band career, and wish you much success in the future. You will always be remembered. As you depart please take this scripture as inspiration:
Proverbs 2: 6-12 reads,
ďFor the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path. When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, Understanding will keep you.
Let us all celebrate a wonderful 2006-2007, and look forward to an even better 2007-2008.
James O. Seda
Director's Message 2005-2006
By James O. Seda
SWD Band Family,
I want to give big congratulations to the 2005-2006 SWD Band. This has truly been one of the most active years in SWD Band history. I'm extremely proud of the manner in which the band came together and stayed together through each moment and event.
The 2005 Band Banquet saw us select a great class of leaders. They worked hard and diligently all summer, through the SWD Summer Drills and Precision Camp.
The football season was very band-friendly. Along with the football team, we saw and competed with some great high school bands. The SWD Band once again gave a classic performance at the Atlanta Battle of the Bands.
The SWD Band received several honors during the fall. We were honored and recognized by Atlanta's Mayor Shirley Franklin with the City of Atlanta's "Phoenix Award", the highest community award given by the mayor. The band was also a part of the public premier of the BRAND ATLANTA campaign, performing the 'ATL' theme, along with many other artists and dignitaries, at an Atlanta Falcons Monday Night Football Game halftime. We were also requested, and performed at the grand opening ceremony of the new wing of the High Museum of Arts.
The highlight of our year was the Rose Parade Trip. We had lots of fun for the week we were there. The SWD Band gave a spectacular field show performance at the Band Fest. At that performance, we premiered our brand new uniforms. The Rose parade was wonderful. Despite the incredible amount of rain we endured, The SWD Band braved the 5 Ĺ mile parade route with composure, stamina and tons of 'PANTHER PRIDE'. As the band creed states, "you see our Pride as we walk by, for each proud person has his head held high." The kids definitely demonstrated that quality.
We returned to Atlanta and got right into symphonic band/ festival preparation. We once again placed the highest number of students in the GMEA District IV Honor Band (the year's total was 32). Later in the spring we also sent nine students that were chosen to be members of the Jacksonville State University Honor Bands to Alabama. They all placed high after auditions, and gave great performances. Band festival for all four of SWD's concert bands was extremely successful. The Cadet Band, Concert Band, Symphonic Band and Wind Symphony all received straight superior ratings from the adjudicators. That makes 16 consecutive years the SWD Band Program has scored a superior rating at district festival.
The spring band camp gave high promise for the years to come. We had 370-plus to participate. More important, we recognized great potential in the young musicians that joined the band program. The culmination of the spring camp was the 2006 JamBoree. The SWD Band, in its ALL WHITE attire gave a very strong performance. All in attendance witnessed first hand why we're "The Best Band In The Land."
We do great things in the SWD Band Program, and each is always met with a challenge. The love that exists in our band family is what gives us strength, vision and lasting will to see each challenge through, and shine in each opportunity we are blessed with. NEVER TAKE FOR GRANTED THE BLESSINGS WE HAVE, FOR GOD AND ONLY GOD KEEPS US STRONG AND FOR EVER FORWARD.
I wish the graduating class of 2006 much success in their future. You all are some remarkable young people, and truly the GEMS of SWD. Keep being who you are.
I give you this word to take with you:
Colossians 1: 11-12 reads,
GOD will strengthen you with his own great power so that you will not give up when trouble come, but you will be patient. And you will joyfully give thanks to the FATHER who has made you able to have a share in all that he has prepared for his people in the kingdom of light.
We all made 2005-2006 a very successful year; let's do it all again for 2006-2007.
James O. Seda
Directors Message 2004-2005
This has truly been a remarkable year for us in the Southwest Dekalb High School Band Program. The highs and lows that we experienced helped us to grow stronger and more resilient. The SWD Band Family has been 'tempered.' Let this day be a celebration of our triumphs over the unavoidable hardships and obstacles that we regularly face.
Band is a way of life in our community. I can't pinpoint an end or a beginning to what we do, as it is a continuous cycle. Whereas, our band banquet signifies an end to our senior's band tenure, for all else the wheels keep turning. Following the 2003-2004 band banquet we were proud of the selection of leaders for the band. Without question the most significant selection was of the first female head drum major in our band's history, Ms. JoAnna Nash. The fanfare was short as she went right to work in organizing the other outstanding leaders in their goals and preparation. The summer workouts went well. With Mr. Nicholas B. Thomas and myself being in Illinois for the summer continuing our EDUCATION (congrats to
Mr. Thomas on the completion of his Masters of Music Degree), we felt confident that all here was in good hands. Between the student leaders and our outstanding band booster organization, the summer months went well. Our kids had a great time at The Precision Band Camp. Some even came back with special recognition awards received at the camp.
During the month of August, the section leaders and drum majors performed at the ESPN Zone for a Bank of America Corporate Meeting. Following the performance I was completely impressed beyond words at the musical proficiency of the group. I knew they were all great players, but they blew everyone's sox off. Immediately I knew that we would have a special year.
The football season went well for the band. We met with familiar rivalries (Stephenson & Redan H.S ), revisited old rivalries ( Columbia H.S.), and began new ones ( M.L. King H.S.). Each school has an outstanding band program, which made for very entertaining game performances.
During the course of the season we were met with wonderful news. The Southwest Dekalb H.S. Marching Panther Band, after applying back in June, won an invitation to participate in the 2006 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. We are one of only twelve bands nationally to be selected to march in this event. Mr. Don P. Roberts always says that each class should hang a significant banner in the bandroom, i.e., Nice, France, 1996 Olympics, Macy's Parade, DRUMLINE, Bands of America. Young band members this will be your banner. PASADENA, HERE WE COME!!!
The Atlanta Battle of the Bands went down as a classic performance for the SWD Band. The kids performed with relentless energy, and the entire stadium stood on their feet for us.
Our fall travels took us to Macon, GA, Birmingham, AL, and New Orleans, LA. Each performance was stellar as the kids 'Rocked The House.' The crowd in Birmingham is one of our favorites. The New Orleans trip was very enjoyable. While there we had the opportunity to perform with one of the nations outstanding high school band programs, St. Augustine High School Marching Band. Both bands, St. Aug and SWD brought their 'A' games. The result was a mutual respect that we gained for each other.
We soon transitioned into our concert season. First we performed a wonderful winter concert shortly before the holiday break. We returned in January and continued our preps for festival. Each of our four concert band had a challenging program selection, and met it with diligence. Through the preparation, Mr. Demetrius V. Hubert and the percussion section, a.k.a. "Death Row" were invited and traveled to Memphis, Tennessee for a performance at the Memphis Grizzlies NBA basketball game. Mr. Hubert and his section took the house for the second consecutive year. An outstanding future teacher, Mr. Samuel Rowley, also joined our staff. He was assigned as the primary teacher/ director of the Cadet Band, our 1st and 2nd year musicians. Mr. Rowley performed his duties with the confidence of a veteran teacher.
The low point of our year was the loss of our beloved JoAnna Nicole Nash. JoAnna was a remarkable spirit, not only to our band family, but to all she was in contact with. The days that followed were not only painful in heart, but also inspiring. Some of our wonderful young kids displayed a wealth of heart, strength and character as they consoled the grieving, while grieving themselves. In these days and times when society speaks so low on this generation of teenagers, I was blessed with the opportunity to see their very best. JoAnna's legacy is not only of band, but also of character, academics, selflessness, beauty and friendship to all. Band member Whitney Jones said it best in her poem to JoAnna, 'We ALL knew an angel.'
The bands all gave an inspiring performance at festival. Each band dedicated their performance to the memory of JoAnna. I was extremely proud of each group, especially the Wind Symphony, in which JoAnna played french horn. The group performed with such maturity, energy, and emotion; it was truly a spiritual experience for me as the conductor. The Straight Superior Rating only went to confirm the pure expression of love we had for her. We truly felt JoAnna's presence, and music, there with us that evening. I guess she flew down to sit with us once more in the chair that we left open for her on stage.
Jamboree, Jamboree, Jamboree. All I can say is that the kids left everything on the arena floor that evening. Early in the spring, we coined this year's performance as the 'Get-Crunk-for-JoAnna-Fest.' We showed all in the house why we're called "The Best Band In The Land."
We were met with many challenges and hardships this year, a lot of which we didn't understand, and yet we survived. Proverbs 3:5 states: Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. I sincerely hope that, through all of our accomplishments, we also accomplish a stronger faith. I congratulate, and wish the senior class of 2005 and their families GOD Speed in all that you do. You made 2004-2005 a success. Let us all make 2005-2006 another season to remember.
James O. Seda