SPOTSWOOD, NJ - The Spotswood High School Band Awards Banquet is held every spring. The event is always emceed by Spotswood High School Band Director Sarah Carino-Koza with the food catered by the program's band parents. It honors students in the program who have participated in the award-winning Concert Band, Honors Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Pep Band and the  Percussion Ensemble. This year's event was held virtually last week because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Like many other school-wide events, the cancellation of the band trip, the Jazz & Such Concert and the Spring Concert left us feeling a bit lost and defeated," explained Carino-Koza. "Quite literally, those are the three main benchmarks that culminate an entire year's worth of hard work, fundraising and countless hours of practice; to not have those important and impactful moments was a difficult pill to swallow."

"While the effort that paved the way toward achieving those goals is still preserved in a way, we did, like many, many other clubs, classes, and teams, go through a bit of a grieving process," Carino-Koza continued. "I think that, from this experience, we will all have so much more gratitude for the experiences that we get to have as being part of the SHS Band Program. Music, uniquely, allows us to connect to each other and our community, however it also allows us to connect to ourselves. Throughout these last few months, the prevalent thread in my conversations with students has been that they have been able to turn to music and music-making as a way to cope and escape. They have expressed that they didn't know the fundamental value of ensemble music-making until it wasn't readily available to them"

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"I firmly believe that when it's safe for us to come together again as a group, the music that we produce will have a deeper and more profound effect on us and our audiences," the longtime SHS Band Director added. "We are forever changed by this experience and ultimately, the music will be a great beneficiary of that. Some of the most trying times in human history have inspired some of the most incredible movements in the fine and performing arts, and our recovery from this will be no different."

During each spring Band Awards Banquet, Carino-Koza also takes a moment to recognize each graduating senior. Ten members of Spotswood High School's award-winning music program will graduate in June including Kaitlyn Ciak, Sheliza Dollete, Joey Fucci, Robert Kwiatkowski, Jenna Citro, Gabby Zeron, Michael Olejarczyk, Jon Wasserman, Kaysi Fajardo and Steven Karczewski.

"Kaitlyn Ciak, who was a member of Concert Band, Wind Ensemble and Pep Band, was not only incredibly dedicated to our program, but she was kind, thoughtful, and able to balance her loyalty to music with achieving academic success. We are so proud that she was named Valedictorian for the Class of 2020," Carino-Koza said.
 
"Sheliza Dollete is wise, quirky, and has always been an excellent role model and guide for our younger musicians. She's an extremely hard worker, and we'll miss her contributions to Concert Band, Percussion Ensemble, Pep Band, Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble," Carino-Koza continued.
 
"Joey Fucci is one of our most improved students, having worked his way up from Concert Band to Wind Ensemble on bass clarinet," Carino-Koza said. "Fucci, as he's known, could always be counted on for bringing snacks to Pep Band and submitting very cool designs for our Band merchandise design contests."

 
"Robert Kwiatkowski is the youngest of three Kwiatkowskis who have graduated from the SHS Band Program," she said. "As a clarinetist, he came to rehearsals focused and with a positive attitude. We were so proud of him for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout this year!"
 
"Jenna Citro, who was part of virtually every ensemble that SHS has to offer and excelled in Honors and AP Music Theory, will always be remembered as the ultimate band kid," Carino-Koza continued. "We're thrilled that she'll be studying Music Education and clarinet next year at West Chester University!"
 
"Gabby Zeron was very involved in the SHS Band program, from playing euphonium in Concert Band, to playing tuba in Wind Ensemble, and also playing the sousaphone when it came time for Brass Choir," Carino-Koza said of her seniors. "Gabby was also integral in coaching and mentoring our younger brass players, and her smiling face and positive attitude will be missed next year!"
 
"Michael Olejarczyk was a member of the Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Pep Band and Percussion Ensemble," the band director said. "His sports expertise will be missed in the stands at football games."
 
"Jon Wasserman is the youngest of three Wassermans who have been part of the Band program since 2012," Carino-Koza continued. "His contributions on trumpet include Concert Band, Wind Ensemble and Brass Choir. Jon's sense of humor and good-naturedness were a delight to have in class every day, and we wish him a lot of luck at the UConn next year!"
 
"Kaysi Fajardo excelled on tenor saxophone after beginning as a freshman on alto saxophone," Carino-Koza said. "Nicknamed "Stacy," because once Mrs. Carino forgot her name and called her Stacy instead, she has always been a dedicated, diligent worker in Concert Band and Wind Ensemble, despite her involvement and success in athletics at SHS."
 
"Steven Karczewski was one of our most loyal members, being part of Concert Band and Wind Ensemble for four years," the music educator added. "He could always be depended on for organizing the percussion music, helping move equipment and being a constant source of great jokes and excellent musicianship."
 
The members of this year's Pep Band which plays at Spotswood High School football games included Jenna Chayko, Adriana Da Rocha, Daniela Da Rocha, Jarod Janssens, Matthew Olejarczyk, Ashley Perdun, Ava Perez, Preston Smith, Yasin Strickland, Maya Yanchuck, Bryan Chan, Joey Fucci, Allie He, Sean Ignotis, Joselyn Picado, Sammy Rios, Samara Schreck, Shannon Longmore, Lindsey Michaels, Joe Perkins, Skylar Provell, Emma Savarese, Kaitlyn Ciak, Jenna Citro, Sheliza Dollete and Micahel Olejarczyk.
 
Members of the 2020 Jazz Band included Jenna Citro, Bryan Chan, Julian Counterman, Kirti Craig, Lex Demarest, Sheliza Dollete, Caden Dowgin, Alexis Faust, Madison Faust, Jada Fenner, Allie He, Graham Hornecker, Sean Ignotis, Charlie Johnson, Ben Leiby, Axelle Lemiere, Shannon Longmore, CJ Martinez, Ashley Perdun, Joe Perkins, Ava Perez, Michael Peter, Skylar Provell, Emma Savarese, Samara Schreck and Hailey Sosnowski.
 
The 2020 Percussion Ensemble included Jenna Citro, Sheliza Dollete, Caden Dowgin, Alexis Faust, Madison Faust, Joey Fucci, Halli Gerin, Allie He, Graham Hornecker, Abby Johnson, Shannon Longmore, CJ Martinez, Lindsey Michaels, Matthew Olejarczyk, Michael Olejarczyk, Joselyn Picado, Skylar Provell, Sammy Rios, Emma Savarese, Samara Schreck and Yasin Strickland.
 
Members of the 2020 Concert Band were Anthony Caron, Jenna Chayko, Katrina Cicero, Jenna Citro, Hailey Connelly, Kirti Craig, Adriana Da Rocha, Daniela Da Rocha, Oscar Davila, Lex Demarest, Chloe Donelan, Caden Dowgin, Alexis Faust, Madison Faust, Joseph Fucci, Allie He, Graham Hornecker, Sean Ignotis, Jarod Janssens, Ashleigh Krefski, Julianna Krefski, Vada Leaver, Shannon Longmore, CJ Martinez, Mary Kate Mauricio, Matthew Olejarczyk, Ashley Perdun, Jacob Phelps, Joselyn Picado, Skylar Provell, Jack Reed, Samuel Rios, Zain Sadiq, Emma Savarese, Julianna Sedwick, Samara Schreck, Preston Smith, Hailey Sosnowski, Yasin Strickland, Robert Wehrle, Gabriela Zeron and Jordana Zeron.
 
The members of the 2020 Honors Wind Ensemble were Victoria Banko, Kailtyn Ciak, Jenna Citro, Sheliza Dollete, Colm Donnelly, Kaysi Fajardo, Alexis Faust, Madison Faust, Jada Fenner, Joseph Fucci, Graham Hornecker, Steven Karczewski, Lauren Kim, Robert Kwiatkowski, Benjamin Leiby, Axelle Lemiere, Shannon Longmore, CJ Martinez, Julia Masucci, Michael Olejarczyk, Joe Perkins, Skylar Provell, Mya ROgando-Lynch, Emma Savarese, Jason Schwartz, Max Swiderski, Jonathan Wasserman, Robert Wehrle and Gabriela Zeron.
 
Jenna Chayko, Zain Sadiq, Sean Ignotis, CJ Martinez, Jada Fenner, Robert Wehrle and Joseph Fucci received the Most Improved Musician Award. The Most Promising Musician Award was given to Maya Yanchuck, Hailey Sosnowski, Joselyn Picado, Anthony Caron, Samuel Rios, Jason Schwartz and Gabriela Zeron.
 
Julianna Krefski, Axelle Lemiere, Graham Hornecker, Benjamin Leiby, Joseph Perkins and Steven Karczewski received the Outstanding Musician Award. The Unsung Hero Award went to Preston Smith, Kirti Craig, Colm Donnelly, Jordana Zeron, Shannon Longmore and Michael Olejarczyk.
 
Skylar Provell was awarded the Pep Band Achievement Award. Ava Perez earned the Excellence in Jazz Award while Samara Schreck was given the Maestro Award.