Kudos to GHS band, paper

GILROY
– Two high school groups, and their advisers in particular, were
recognized by the school board for their outstanding achievements
in music and journalism.
By Lori Stuenkel

GILROY – Two high school groups, and their advisers in particular, were recognized by the school board for their outstanding achievements in music and journalism.

Trustees at the school board meeting Dec.18 presented Gilroy High School Band Director Joey Fortino and The Free Press Adviser Elizabeth Dirks with certificates of appreciation for earning state and national honors in their respective fields this fall.

“I’m very pleased to see these outstanding recognitions on behalf of the high school,” Board President Jaime Rosso said. “And we’re very proud of our staff and students.”

Fortino, who directs four GHS bands, led the marching band to a third-place finish in Class A (bands with 60 members or less) in the Western Band Association’s state finals.

“It was quite an event, and it was a lot of fun and these students really work their tails off,” Fortino said. “They did an excellent job this year. The kids came a long way from the beginning of the year.”

Last year, the marching band placed first in its class and fourth in Class AA (61 to 100 members) at the championships.

“That means they really pass up a lot of bands that might have been twice their size and still have that strong showing,” Principal Bob Bravo said.

This is Fortino’s seventh year as head of the high school’s four bands – including the symphonic band, wind ensemble and jazz band – and his first as director of the South Valley Youth Orchestra. Bravo praised Fortino for building a strong music program at GHS, particularly this year, as many band members were younger students.

“I think it bodes well for the fact that as these student s move up through the classes, that they’re going to show well in competitions,” Bravo said.

Elizabeth Dirks, GHS journalism teacher, accepted recognition for The Free Press, GHS’s nationally recognized student newspaper. The paper was granted the Pacemaker Award by the National Scholastic Press Association and Newspaper Association of America last month.

“It basically is the award that is given to a very small number of newspapers that are considered to be the best in the county,” Dirks told trustees.

Dirks praised her students, especially Megan Stevens, last year’s editor-in-chief, and Kristen Rose, current front page news editor, who joined her at the Dec. 18 school board meeting. “Without the students in Gilroy giving their hard work and putting in their effort, we wouldn’t have a national award-winning paper,” Dirks said. “Their dedication and hard work is absolutely amazing.”

Superintendent Edwin Diaz praised Fortino and Dirks.

“I think both of these programs are an example of some of the many things that happen at GHS on an annual basis and the type of quality that is happening at that school,” Diaz said. “So I just want to thank you for going the extra mile to develop the type of quality programs that you’ve developed for our kids.”

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