Students Nyree Ruiz, of Hammond; Rebecca Carlos, of Hammond; Hanna Abuzead, of Hammond; Arianna Magallanes, of Hammond; Alessandra Lopez, of Hammond; Abigail Wojtaszek, of Hammond; Alexis Vega, of East Chicago; Kylie McCabe, of South Holland; MacKenzie Halas, of Griffith; and Berenice Manuel, of East Chicago; all had to prepare and submit their pieces virtually along with more than 800 other school participants from around the state. Songs were judged and scored by music adjudicators.
“I love this process,” said Rocco Carioto, BNI band director. “I receive back a much more accomplished player and they become leaders in the band through their sacrifice and hard work. These kids have proven that pandemic or not, if you keep pushing forward and raising the bar, nothing can stop you.”
Bishop Noll junior Abigail Wojtaszek has played the clarinet for six years and is learning the cello. She practiced the song “Spirit Dance” for several weeks prior to the ISSMA competition.
“It was nice to win the gold medal. I won it last year as well, so it was good to keep a streak going,” she said. “I enjoy hearing the beautiful melodies that come from playing music. It feels like I’m in control. I enjoy being able to learn new instruments in band. I get to explore other things I may be good at.”
In addition to the band, Wojtaszek is Drama Club president, Environmental Club founder and a representative for the Diocese of Gary Diocesan Youth Council. She is also a member of Crochet Club, Chess Club, Choir, National Honor Society, Academic Superbowl, Speech, golf and Student Ambassadors.
Bishop Noll sophomore Rebecca Carlos plays the flute and has played since seventh grade. For ISSMA, she played a solo called “Adagio.” She also competed as part of a trio performing the song “trio 3” with Ruiz and Abuzead.
“I felt really accomplished and proud of myself because I took my time to prepare myself for this competition and I improved my fingering in this process. What I most enjoy about playing my flute is the sound that comes out. I love playing my flute; it's one of my hobbies. I love to see myself improving.”
She said she enjoys the band because it is fun and Carioto makes sure band students are having fun and trying their best.
“I have increased my knowledge in playing my flute in my two years of high school band and I hope to continue to learn more.”
In addition to the band, Carlos is also involved at Bishop Noll in tennis, Drama Club, chess, Women's Empowerment Club, Science Olympiad, Crochet Club, Environmental Club and National Honor Society.
Freshman Berenice Manuel recently started to learn the violin in Bishop Noll’s band class. She performed “Claire de lune” on the violin for the ISSMA competition.
“It made me really happy because I recently started to play and it was the first time I ever did ISSMA. I enjoy playing music because it's a way I use to distract myself and lessen stress. I enjoy band because it's fun playing music with other people. It adds to the excitement of bringing a music piece to life.”
In addition to band, Manuel is in Art Club and plays tennis at Bishop Noll.
Fellow freshman violin player Mackenzie Halas also performed the piece “Claire de lune.”
Halas began to relearn the violin this year at Bishop Noll, having taken lessons in the past.
“I wasn’t expecting to get the medal,” she said. “It made me feel like I did a good job. What I enjoy most about playing music is that I can possibly make someone’s day just by playing a simple note or song for them.”
She enjoys band because everyone plays well together.
“Everyone treats each other like family. I also like our teacher. He’s a great band teacher and he is always there to help us.”
In addition to band, Halas is in Drama Club, Art Club, ANK club (a club she created for anime and K-pop fans), tennis, basketball and Campus Ministry.
“I plan on joining as much as possible so I can stay active,” she said.
The COVID-19 virus put a halt to many activities at many schools but not at Bishop Noll. The band continues to have a busy year, having played at football games and Masses and conducting a socially distanced outdoor concert this fall. In addition, the band and choir held a virtual Christmas concert, with more than 1,200 views. At Bishop Noll, band is a course offering for all students. The school is currently enrolling students for Fall 2021. Visit bishopnoll.org for more information, or contact Jeff Stur, director of admissions, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 932-9058, ext. 1008.