Band earns national honors
Band Director Jason Younts was elated to learn that Fredericksburg Independent School District’s band program had earned the Best Communities for Music Education award.
Younts announced FISD’s recognition from the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation through a social media post on Tuesday, April 7. This is the first time FISD has been recognized with this achievement.
“I’m ecstatic to see the entire district, the band staff and students, and the community be given something to feel that gratitude,” Younts said. “It just shows the difference they make in this community.”
Younts believes there are several reasons FISD deserves this award, but one primary reason is not limiting students who have a poor financial situation.
“All of the band programs in San Antonio have what’s called a ‘fair share,’ which is a capital outlay where each student pays a set amount of money for things like uniforms and trips,” Younts said. “The great support from FISD allows for no fair share. Students’ travel, uniforms and other expenses are funded through boosters and district support.”
Younts is in his sixth year as an FISD band director, which means the seniors he coached this year were the first group of sixth graders he started with at the beginning of his Fredericksburg career. He said it’s been great to see them grow and progress, and added they’ve molded him to be a better teacher as well.
“It’s the longest I’ve ever been with a group and they’re like my own kids in a lot of ways,” Younts said.
One of his original students, Fredericksburg High School senior Mia Stenberg, can attest to the impact Younts has had on the program. Under his leadership, Stenberg has made progress, earning All-State in clarinet three times.
“Mr. Younts is a big part of (the program’s success),” Stenberg said. “He always sets programs to help build tradition and bonding and one of his biggest priorities is getting to know everyone’s names.”
Younts said he’s excited about the award, but he’s disappointed he can’t celebrate with the students in person, as schools are closed due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. He hopes they can do so during either the spring concert or the band banquet.
“If that’s not possible, we’ll try to celebrate at band camp in the summer,” Younts said.
During these uncertain times, it’s not possible to have the band practice together. That doesn’t mean Younts isn’t doing his best to keep them practicing.
“He puts out assignments on the apps we use where we have to perform our school song and our fight song,” Stenberg said. “It’s fun to do in my spare time.”
Stenberg said while Younts offers plenty of ways to stay focused, it’s been easier for her to practice, as she’s also going to be majoring in music in college next year. She also wants to “stay fresh,” just in case the band is able to perform together again.
The FISD band program will be celebrating its 90th anniversary next year and Younts said many events are planned.
“We plan to have an alumni band event at one of the home games. Any alumnus is allowed to participate and be recognized,” Younts said. “We will also have composers writing pieces for our kids to compose in the spring.”
Younts said there will be plenty of history to celebrate and this new award gives them one more thing.