HONESDALE – The Wayne Highlands School District has a lot to be proud of.

Nine students participated in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) District 9 Band Festival, which took place Jan. 8-10 at Marywood University.

PMEA sponsors music festivals for band, chorus and orchestra each year, at the District, Regional and State levels.

The students included:

• Senior Dan Rodriguez, trumpet

• Junior Jordan Gallo, trumpet

• Junior Kiah Lynch, clarinet

• Senior Elizabeth Aronica, clarinet

• Senior Nick Jennings, clarinet

• Sophomore Haley Cowger, bass clarinet

• Junior Tristan Protzman, French horn

• Senior Megan Gullone, tenor sax

• Sophomore Angelea Francesco, trumpet

Five of those students advanced to to the PMEA Region IV Band Festival, which began Wednesday. The competition runs through Friday.

Students attending Regionals are Lynch, Aronica, Jennings, Protzman and Gullone.

The students are selected to participate through an audition process held in the fall and prepare their music in advance of the festival.

Once at the festival, they audition again for chair placement and advancement to the next level. For this purpose the state is divided into 12 districts and six regions.

Region IV, made up of District 8 and 9, encompasses a 14 county area stretching from Wellsboro in the West, Lewistown and Shamokin in the South, Susquehanna in the North and reaching to New York State in the East.

District 8 includes schools from Bradford, Snyder, Lycoming, Columbia, Union, Montour, Northumberland, Sullivan and Tioga counties.

District 9 includes schools from Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne, Wyoming and Susquehanna counties.

“The festivals are a great experience for the students to learn from other professionals in the field,” said Betty Ann Robson, band director.

The students also shared their experiences.

For Gullone, this is her first year in the competitions.

“Districts was so fun,” she said. “It was a great experience. I'm looking forward to Regionals.”

She added it's her first and last competition so it's bittersweet.

“I'm glad I got the opportunity to go before I graduated,” Gullone stated.

This year marks Jennings' third time at Districts and first time attending Regionals.

“I'm excited to spend time with my friends, making new friends and being around those who love music as much as I do,” he stated.

As a senior, it's also bittersweet for Jennings.

“I'm happy to get the experience prior to doing band in college, but I'm also said because with these competitions, you grow up with the people there.”

Protzman is also taking part in his first Regionals. He attended Districts two times.

“I'm looking forward to how the music will sound when it's all put together,” he said. “I hope it's a lot of fun like it was in Districts.”

For Francesco, it was her first time participating in Districts.

“I learned a lot,” she said. “I'm looking forward to trying it again.”

Rodriguez said he liked the music at Districts.

“There was a lot of material,” he said. “I had fun.”

It was also Cowger's first time at Districts.

“I was scared and nervous at first,” she said. “I was shocked I made it. I learned a lot [from the competition.]”

For the seniors, it is their last year at PMEA festivals. As for the rest of them, they all said they're planning on auditioning again.