McPherson musicians from elementary on up to high school had a weekend to remember at the Kansas Music Educators Association the weekend of Feb. 21. Five All-State Choir and six All-State Band members traveled to Wichita along with thousands of educators and students representing public, private, and collegiate schools across the state.

“There couldn’t have been better PR for our schools as we were at the forefront of several conversations of music excellence all weekend long,” said Nicholas Griggs, USD 418 choir director. “I hope you are as proud of the music department as we were! We were excited to represent McPherson Schools, and so proud to have done it so well! Like I said before, it was EPIC!”

The weekend included not only performances, but clinics for the young musicians and their mentors to learn and collaborate. A number of presentations involved McPherson High School, Middle School and Elementary personnel and students.

The first presentation in choral music excellence was a presentation/concert by the McPherson High School Select Women’s Choir.

“It was the first time a high school choir had been selected in school history),” Griggs said. “The Select Women’s Choir knocked it out of the park with a performance of varying style and music skills, including songs with four different languages.”

The choir even received a standing ovation after their moving performance.

On the second day 16 additional All-State Choir students came to perform. It was a full day of music learning and experiences and again McPherson was highlighted in front of the masses as freshman Pierce Hamma was announced as a three-year member (an incredibly difficult task) during his portion of the concert.

Day three saw the Middle School Honors Choir, co-directed by Miriam Griggs and Griggs, perform in choral music excellence.

“Their concert was beautiful,” Griggs said. “The poise in which our sixth- through eighth-graders presented with recording mics all around, and presiding KMEA board members present in addition to their families and educators across the state was impressive yet again.”

Next, was a presentation in jazz music excellence by the McPherson Middle Jazz Band under the direction of Austin Russell.

“Their concert was just as impressive as the previous McPherson presentations, and like all three groups, they received a standing ovation for their excellence in performance,” Griggs stated.

Next, was a presentation by Lisa Simmelink and Paul Carver about the impacts redesign has had on their school’s music students.

“They received rave revues about their presentation as well,” griggs explained.

Lastly, three high school all-state concerts took place in which McPherson was highlighted yet again. Senior Kari Ellet was announced and recognized as a Three-Year Member of the KMEA All-State Choir, seniors Megan Eisenbarth, Katie Hemenway and Mary Ann Wurm were all announced and recognized as Three-Year All-State Band Members. Senior Ben Hopkins was also announced and recognized as a Three-Year All-State Band/Orchestra Member at his Orchestra concert.

McPherson was well-represented over the weekend. Honors were given in abundance to the well-deserving students and their mentors for the hard work they have put in.

Contact Teri L. Hansen by email at or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.