Four students represent county at All State Honor Band

Published 9:15 am Saturday, May 13, 2023

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Four students represented Covington County at the Alabama Bandmasters Association’s Alabama All State Honor Band in Huntsville this year.

Straughn High School had three students compete at the event, and Florala High School had one.

“Making the Alabama All State Honor Band is truly an impressive accomplishment,” SHS Director of Bands Daniel Walden said. “This is one of the few honor bands left that students must play their way into. They spent countless hours preparing for their auditions and were rewarded by being some of the few chosen out of many thousands that auditioned across the state. We have some amazing students throughout Covington County Schools. These four students are just a small sampling of the talent that exists in all of the arts.”

Straughn sophomore Christian Pate played French horn at the competition. He will be the school’s drum major in 2023-2024.

“My favorite part about this instrument is the musical lines it allows me to play. The French horn usually has unique and fun parts to play. I’m so grateful for this opportunity because it allows me to play harder music and better my craft. The new teaching techniques I have acquired at All State will definitely transfer into my leadership skills as SHS drum major,” Pate said.

Straughn junior Christian Kime played bari sax at the competition.

“I enjoy playing it because it is different, and not too many people play it. This experience has challenged me and has made me a better musician. It gives me more experience and exposure to playing as part of a bigger band. I think the experience made me a better musician all around and taught me that hard work and dedication pays off,” Christian said.

Straughn eighth grader Catherine Kime played trumpet at the competition.

“I love that trumpets often get to play the melody. I love anything to do with music. I am very proud to have made it in Honor Band and All State. I worked really hard to get into All State Band and started last summer with my pieces of music for All State auditions. I practiced for hours every week and really felt discouraged at first because the music was the hardest I had ever played. I was determined to make it and kept practicing even working with Mr. Walden after school. This was a great opportunity to meet other musicians with the same passion for music as me. I enjoyed challenging myself with more difficult pieces and proved to myself I could do anything I set my mind to. This experience sparked something in me to want to keep striving to do better. I am excited to see what next year brings,” Catherine said.

Florala eighth grader Caitlyn Hudson played clarinet at the competition.

“I enjoyed playing the clarinet because of how smooth it sounds. It means a lot to me to represent my school since I am the only one that made it. I had so much fun up in Huntsville and will use this experience to move forward by looking back and thinking how I got a lower chair card. Next year, I will try harder to get a higher chair card,” Hudson said.

Pate stated he is proud to represent Straughn through the arts. This was his fifth year after joining in beginner band as a sixth grader.

“I believe that the arts in the county schools deserve so much more attention and support. If I can help that by playing my instrument, then I will. I want to let everyone know that music education has enormous benefits for kids. If a parent is reading this, I want to ask them to consider enrolling their kid in a music extracurricular.”

Catherine started band in the sixth grade and has finished her third year. She added that she gained more confidence in herself following All State.

“I know that sometimes things are difficult at first, but if you push through the difficult part, there will be great rewards in the end. It helped me step out of my comfort zone, and I don’t think you can grow as a person without doing that.”

Christian also started in the sixth grade and has completed his sixth year.

“I started playing the alto sax and switched to the baritone saxophone in my seventh grade year.”

Hudson has been in band for over a year and appreciated the experience from All State.

“I would like to compliment my director for All State, Dr. Golden. She was so funny and such a great director. I will definitely never forget her. I would also like to compliment the White Band for their performance. It was amazing, and I loved all their songs. Anyone who has band experience should try out, especially from my district. It would be super cool to see more people from there up in Huntsville.”

FHS Director of Bands Patrick Whitehurst was proud of Hudson and praised her work ethic.

“It has been so awesome to see Caitlyn achieve something so great as making the All State Band. She is a model student and has worked so hard all year. I could not think of a student more deserving than her to have this opportunity. I am looking forward to seeing her progress and grow as a student and a musician,” Whitehurst said.

All four students showed appreciation for their school band directors.

“Having a supportive band director is something I’m so thankful for. Without Mr. Walden, I wouldn’t have discovered my passion for music. He has shown me that music is what I want to do with my life,” Pate stated.

“It means so much to me that Mr. Whitehurst took the time to drive up there just for one student. He supported me a lot and provided me with food. He is honestly the best band director I could ask for,” Hudson said.

“It means everything to have support from my band director. I am so fortunate that he supports us and encourages us the way he does. He is always getting us to try new things. He spends countless hours after school in extra practice sessions with us helping us to be the best we can be. He has definitely helped me become a better player. I would like to thank Mr. Walden for everything he does for us,” Catherine said.

“My band director’s support means a lot. I don’t think I could have made it without all the extra help he has given me over the years. He gives me pointers on my playing and encourages his students to participate in honor bands and try out for All State. Thank you to Mr. Walden for all of the hours you put in helping your students. We really appreciate it,” Christian stated.

For more information on each school’s band, email or