Every year, high schools across the county come together in San Bernardino to put their musicianship to the test by being rated by a panel of judges, all hoping for the coveted Superior rating, which would boost them into the regional competition. Last Thursday, Encore High School's Symphonic Winds earned the school's first Superior and are heading to regionals in May.


"We came to school that day with a certain intensity," said senior Jeremy Nevarez, first chair euphonium player. "Of course, we all represent Encore when we go to festival, and everyone really came together to show what we're really capable of."


Receiving a superior is considered an especially noteworthy achievement, and for students it's even more of an amazing honor to obtain especially when the players thought fallen a little short.


"They had made a mistake on the listing, ranking us as excellent," said Lindsey Bellefeuille, the Symphonic Winds' first chair flute player. "But when they came out and told us they made a mistake and we had a superior, well I was stoked!"


Nevarez sees the competition as an opportunity to test oneself, to rise to a special challenge.


"What I love about it is the fact that people view regionals and festival as a competition against other schools, when in reality it's not, it's competition against ourselves, a way to test the level of musicianship we're currently at and how well we interpret a piece of music," he said. "Getting to hear other schools in the process is just a fun perk. I think that's what I'm most excited for, how little old Symphonic Winds compares with these high-caliber ensembles. It's been a four-year journey for me, and to be a part of this group and earn this rating; is just excitement beyond words."


The Symphonic Winds musicians said they are looking forward to regional competition.


Christina Chambers is a student at Encore High School in Hesperia and a student intern at the Hesperia Star.