Monday, February 15, 2016


The Band That Gives Back | Seating Chart Generator

Grove, Oklahoma Ridgerunner Band:
The Band that Gives Back
by Jennifer Wassenaar

One of the many functions of the band is to participate in community and school events such as performing at athletic events, local parades, and other civic events. Performing in these venues exposes the band to members of the community who might not otherwise hear them perform. In addition, it teaches the students the valuable lesson of using their musical ability to serve others. Grove, Oklahoma's band program is a great example of a band that gives back.

The band at Grove is under the direction of 34-year veteran teacher Joe Wilhelm, with assistance from his son, Joseph and part-time assistance from Paxton Taylor. With a population of 6600, Grove is a retirement community located on Grand Lake in northeast Oklahoma. Of the 650 students at the 4A school, 85 of them are members of the band program, which includes a marching band, concert band and jazz band. The band successfully performs locally, statewide and nationally with excellent support from the community, and it has plans to travel to Orlando, Florida this spring. It gives back to the local community with Veterans Day and Christmas performances, as well as special fundraising events like one held in 2011 to benefit Joplin High School.

Led by a philosophy of "Community first, band contest second," the band performs at the typical venues in addition to performing at a school-wide, large-scale Veterans Day breakfast and ceremony. Veterans are invited to breakfast, and the band, choir and school officials participate in a ceremony designed to honor the veterans and educate the students.

It is a long standing tradition that those in attendance at the Christmas concert are asked to bring canned goods and new toys for those less fortunate. Wilhelm stated, "When the band officers deliver several large boxes of these items to the community food shelter, they understand the need for community service."

When Joplin High School was destroyed by the tornado on May 22, 2011, the band at Grove held a concert called Jammin' 4 Joplin the following November. They played marching, pep and show tunes, and the choirs, color guard, and cheerleaders were invited to join them. They paired the concert with a silent auction, raising over $2,000 to benefit the Joplin band in a single evening. Using the same format, the band raised over $3,000 in November, 2015 for students and families in need within the Grove school district.

The Grove High School band is an excellent example of how students can support the community through performances and fundraisers, all the while raising funds for their typical band activities. When asked how these activities impact students' lives Wilhelm said, "Kids have learned first-hand how to help others in need, and how to work together for good!"

To learn more about the Grove Ridgerunner Band, visit their Facebook page.

Jennifer Wassenaar
Palen Music Center Store Manager - Joplin, MO
[email protected]

Jennifer grew up in Farmington, Missouri, and graduated from Southwest Baptist University with a degree in Instrumental Music Education. She taught in southeast Missouri as the assistant band director in the Ste. Genevieve and Potosi school districts, as well as the band director in Crystal City. Jennifer maintained a private flute studio and served as a clinician for area schools. She joined the Palen Music Center team in November, 2014 shortly after moving to Joplin. Jennifer enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, digital scrapbooking, playing flute and piccolo and hanging out with her husband, Mike, and their spoiled golden retriever, Grizzly.


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