NEWTON, NJ—The Newton High School Band brought home the hardware from their National Competition in Cleveland, Ohio this past weekend.

Under the direction of Stephen O’Toole, the Jazz band ranked first with a superior ranking, the Symphonic band ranked first with an excellent ranking and the ensemble was also awarded the Best High School Overall Jazz Ensemble.

Senior, Josh Rothstein, received the only Outstanding Soloist award for the trumpet given out during this competition.

Sign Up for E-News

“It was two full days’ worth of competition with bands from all over the country,” according to parent and chaperone, Dawn Costello. This is Costello’s third year as a chaperone.

The Newton High School jazz band and the symphonic band each played two songs apiece during the competitions.

According to Costello, this is the sixth trip for the band.  In previous years the band has traveled to competitions in Virginia and Cincinnati.

“This is something these kids look forward to all year,” Costello said. “It is such an eclectic bunch of talented kids and Mr. O’Toole is truly amazing. The kids love and respect him and have an immense desire to make him proud. He guides these kids in being the best they can be.”

This year the group’s itinerary included a visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and then go and see the Cleveland Orchestra.

“It is a fun trip where O’Toole always finds a way to incorporate music experiences, as well as downtime fun like always staying at the Great Wolf Lodge with its water park and then going to the Cedar Point Park along Lake Eerie after the competition,” said Costello.

Costello said one of the fun things O’Toole does it to get a caricature done to hang in the band room at the high school when he gets back in order to honor his students who will be graduating. “It is one of the highlights for the seniors and just another way that O’Toole shows his kids how special they are.”

Although the students were in Ohio, they did not miss their opportunity to show respect and support for Lexi Faye’s family during this difficult time. Faye lost her life in a tragic accident last Saturday, May 11; three other Newton high school students were injured in the accident.

The Newton High School band ensemble wore their own white bows and even made extra and handed them out during the competition to all the other band ensembles.