FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – School District 60 music teacher Sabrina Brooks says she was thrilled to learn that nine students in the band program plan to study music after graduating high school, with three of those students auditioning to schools this year.

Brooks says nine students is way above the amount the district usually sees pursue music in post-secondary.

“We’re used to one every couple of years. So we had three that auditioned this year, two are graduating, but they’re taking a gap year, and they’re looking to apply the year after,” Brooks said.

Brooks added that students in the band program get to go on trips to locations such as Toronto, Cuba, or Grande Prairie under normal circumstances. But for the past two years, the band hasn’t been able to travel, which makes the fact that such a high number of students want to study music even more special to Brooks.

“The fact that these kids stayed in probably the most boring band years I’ve ever taught, found a connection to it, and want to continue with it, I’m quite happy.”

Brooks says she’s thankful the district kept the band program going despite the pandemic and believes it may have played a part in bringing students closer to music.

“For a lot of students, band was their safe place. We owe a debt of gratitude; there are so many districts that shut down [band programs] due to the fear of germs,” Brooks said.

Brooks has worked with the students interested in studying music outside of school to assist them with school selection, auditions, and setting up private tutors.

She says the band program takes a “village to run” and works closely with her colleagues.

Brooks starts the kids off in Grade 6, running the beginner band program with the assistance of her colleague, David Price, who runs the senior band program, with the help of Brooks.

Brooks also gave a shoutout to program Coordinator Sandra Gunn and teachers Joe Brooks and Alice Maundrell for their tireless efforts in teaching the middle school band program.