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These kids rock

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These Marine Park kids have a future in music.

Scholars at Marine Park Jr. High School have always maintained a high standard in the musical arts, and this year was no different — as evidenced by the accolades and awards they received at two music festivals this year.

At the Parks Festival in Hershey, Pennsylvania, seventh-grader Marvin Carter was awarded Best Soloist in a Jazz Ensemble.

“He’s a phenomenal player,” band director Candis Pohl said of Carter, who plays the alto saxophone. “He’s someone who practices so hard, a dedicated young man who never lets a mistake go uncorrected. He’s one of those kids who has to go back and get it right.”

The budding musicians started off their regional tour with the New York State School Music Association Festival on May 10, where thousands of young instrumentalists from hundreds of schools are judged on their tone, intonation, technique, accuracy, interpretation, scales, and sight reading.

The school’s beginner band, comprised of students who began studying their instruments in September, earned a silver medal. The symphonic band and the jazz band earned a gold medal and the jazz ensemble along with the school’s chorus earned the festival’s highest honor, a gold medal with distinction.

The New York State festival is not competitive — each ensemble has the chance to earn the event’s highest distinction — but is rather an opportunity for a school to showcase its students’ talents and a way to gauge their progress from year to year.

But in IS 278’s case, the students have a standard to live up to, according to Pohl.

“They’ve been doing continually well the last six years, pulling in gold and gold with distinction on an annual basis,” she said. “They’ve really been working hard.”

The Parks Festival, however, is a different story.

“That was very competitive,” said Pohl.

The field was stacked with young talent in Hershey on May 18, but Marine Park Jr. High, by and large, swept the show.

Both the Jazz Ensemble and the Symphonic Band took home first-place prizes, while the latter was also awarded Best Overall. The chorus took home a worthy second, and the jazz band came in third, while Carter, of course, earned best soloist in a Jazz ensemble.

“There are schools that travel all over the region, and it’s meaningful because, if you do well, it shows you’re doing something right and validates all the hard work you do every day at school, which is always a nice feeling,” said Pohl.

Not only did the kids receive accolades for their musical talent, the school took home the competition’s Esprit De Corps, an award given to the most respectful, well behaved, and considerate student competitors — for the third year in a row!

“You get it the first year, it’s nice, and the second year’s great, but the third year is amazing,” said Pohl.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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