Mooreville Middle School and Mooreville High School are making music in a big way across the Magnolia State this year.
Mooreville alumni and middle school band director Will Pate returned to his alma mater at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year to direct the MMS Band. From New York to Amory, Pate brings diverse experience and passion for education and the arts.
“I enjoyed my time in New York City, but I always wanted to return home and start teaching in this area,” Pate said. “I’ve really enjoyed being home. I have many great memories of this campus as a student and a band member. It’s been awesome to re-create those positive experiences for students now.”
Pate and the Mooreville High School band director, Walt Namie, work closely together to teach and lead students cohesively from sixth through twelfth grade. The result? Talented musicians.
“I’m passionate about music education. I really believe in it,” Pate continued. “Music is its own unique learning mode. It is its own intelligence. For some students, music is their strongest form of learning, which can bring out the best in them and encourage them in other academic areas. Music supports other subjects, helps develop the brain, and allows students to do well.”
Through a competitive audition, a panel of judges recently selected seven Mooreville Middle School students to be members of the 2024 Delta State University Honor Middle School Band out of hundreds of students who auditioned across the state.
“Our students earned 1st chair in 4 sections and 2nd chair in another,” Pate said. “This is a band of about 70-80 students, and I’m very proud to have seven of those students be from our school.”
The following Mooreville Middle School Band members earned chairs in the 2024 Delta State University Honor Band:
- Kaitlyn Ellis – 1st chair flute
- Whitney Stacy – 4th chair flute
- Carson Nichols – 1st chair trumpet
- Connor Namie – 1st chair trombone
- Evan Rollins – 4th chair trombone
- Ryder Angle – 1st chair tuba
- Carter Murphy – 2nd chair percussion
These students will travel to Delta State in January to rehearse under expert clinicians from Mississippi and perform a concert with the rest of the honor band. They will rehearse on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning and perform a concert together on Saturday afternoon.
Four Mooreville High School students also made the high school honor band: Maggie Brooke Brownlee, Colton Namie, Ariel Cook-Haynes, and Hayden Martin. Martin earned 2nd chair in the top high school honor band. Additionally, Martin and Namie were selected for the Mississippi Lions All-State Band. Martin is one of only 16 trombones across Mississippi and Namie one of only 24 trumpets. They will travel to Australia with the band to compete internationally next summer.
“My goal is to represent our band, school, and community well. I want to be a positive force in the community to serve as one of the centers of school spirit. In my classes, I tell my students that I want everyone to enjoy making music together,” Pate explained. “I want them to enjoy their work, but the key word is together. There are many ways to make music, but what’s unique about the band is that it takes everyone in the room. This concept benefits our students because it gives them a sense of shared responsibility and accountability to each other. This is key for a band, but it’s also key in developing them as humans.”
The Mooreville Middle School Band had a busy fall semester full of marching band, honor band auditions, and preparation for a beloved Mooreville tradition, their own “Macy’s Day Parade.” With a continued focus on concert band and additional honor band auditions, MMS and MHS provide opportunities that lead to valuable experiences and potential scholarships.
“My favorite thing about teaching music is the opportunity to teach the person and their humanity and develop good citizens who are positive contributors to our society. Being the band director here is such a rewarding job. Our state has such a rich music history; the opportunities for students are endless in Mississippi.”
All photos are courtesy of Will Pate.