The North Pocono High School marching band and units, with the assistance of the school’s Band Parents Association, held their annual banquet on February 23 in the cafeteria at the high school. Each year, this special evening of friendship, memories, and accomplishments honors the achievements of students in the school’s marching band and marching units.
This year’s banquet featured Mr. Greg Dohlon, the Trojans’ head football coach, as guest speaker. Rev. Earl Trygar, rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Moscow, offered the invocation for the evening. Rev. Trygar had served earlier as the first president of the North Pocono Band Parent Association.
At the event, students were honored for their achievements. Those being honored included students who earned varsity letters and service bars. All members earn a varsity letter upon their third year of participation in the band and marching units. Several students who had perfect attendance at every practice and performance earned a letter after two years of participation. After attaining their letters, students can earn service bars for their participation and hard work in the band and marching units. Seniors also received large prints of their formal band portraits for the 2016-2017 school year.
This year’s letter recipients were Faith Alunni, Samantha Clarke, James Docalovich, John Giguere, Jonathan Haikes, Stephen Hineline, Ruthy Hunjo, Sara LeClaire, Rhiannon Mancuso, Alexandra Martinelli, Amanda Murphy, Joseph Norvilas, Raymond Parricelli, Beth Reynolds, Lilianna Ruby, Jessica Sember, Jacob Schultz, Julian Sochoka, William Thomas, and Ethan Verne.
1st service bar recipients were Dianna Brown, Kaitlyn Burkit, Amanda Ciero, Joshua Danna, Mary Donaghy, Seamus Farrell, Ryan Hatton, Sean Hatton, Alexander Major, Kayli Milite, Avery Roberts, Allison Scherger, Morganne Singer, Matthew Smith, Sean Smith, Megan Thomas, Marissa Tripus, Zachary Vrabel, Alyssa Walsh, and Maya Whited.
2nd service bar recipients were Craig Beavers, Victoria Feola, Gabrielle Gentile, Sarah Heffler, Lilly Martin, Hanna Neiswander, and Anthony Zou.
This year’s banquet also marked Mr. Frank Torquato’s final one as band director due to his upcoming retirement from the district. Drum majors Amanda Ciero and Sean Smith presented Mr. Torquato with special gifts from the students, including a memory book featuring photos by David Orrson and signed by all of his students, and a commemorative plaque. In addition to the personal plaque that Mr. Torquato received, a duplicate plaque will be displayed in his honor in the band room at North Pocono High School. The students also produced a slide show to recap the year. At its conclusion, the presentation also included a surprise montage in honor of Mr. Torquato.
Mr. Torquato, who has been band director for 28 years, remarked, “All I ever wanted to do was to be a high school band director, and it’s been fabulous!” A talented musician in his own right, Mr. Torquato currently gives small group instrumental instruction to students in the district and serves as director of the high school’s marching and concert bands, steel drum project, and jazz ensemble.
In addition to his work as an educator, Mr. Torquato’s influence has greatly impacted music education in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He was instrumental in establishing band cavalcades in the area, helps to organize Lackawanna County Band for high school students, and is the former assistant director of musical ensembles at the University of Scranton. He is also a professional musician playing with various musical groups for an array of performances.
Michele DelPrete, choral director and marching units advisor at North Pocono, has worked with Mr. Torquato since 1993 and stated that he has had a profound effect on her in his role as mentor, colleague, and friend.
“His wisdom, strength of character, and humility are admirable. His quest for knowledge is evident in his constant sharing of ideas and information relevant to today’s world. He has a wealth of experience from which I, personally, have greatly benefitted. I am so grateful that he has willingly shared his thoughts and opinions with me without ever interfering with my choice in forming my own opinion,” she explained.
Ms. DelPrete further remarked, “Frank’s focus as a teacher has always been on what is best for the student, not necessarily what the student wants. He is not afraid to make the difficult choices knowing he serves the best interest of the student. Because of this quality, Frank has formed strong, lasting bonds with so many of the young people he has had the privilege of sharing a classroom, stage, or football field with.”
“He is well respected even though some may not always agree with his thoughts or opinions. He is tenacious, hard working, and dedicated. His moral and spiritual constitution is unwavering. His faith is the foundation for all he does, is, and aspires to be. To say he is a role model for me and others is an understatement,” she added.
Mr. Torquato noted that what he will miss most about teaching in the district is working with the students, and said he hopes to continue to share his musical and teaching skills post-retirement with a community based project that would allow both children and adults to develop their creative talents.
He also expressed gratitude for the special way in which students at the banquet marked his impending retirement. “The parents and kids were very thoughtful and generous in presenting me with a beautiful memory book that I will treasure. I was caught by surprise, but perhaps I should not have been as they are all very thoughtful and generous,” he said.
In addition to Mr. Torquato, Janelle Decker is the assistant band director. Michele DelPrete is the marching units’ advisor, assisted by Lindsey Croom. Sharon Ambrozia and Joseph Serrenti are summer music instructors. Drill design and some music arrangements are by David Cooper. Majorette choreographer is Amber Martin, with Lisa and Garry Pentz serving as color guard choreographers.
The band section leaders are Sarah Heffler, Jessica Sember, Samantha Clarke, Stephen Hineline, Zach Vrabel, Craig Beavers, Dianna Brown, and Amanda Murphy. Band officers are Lilly Martin, president; Josh Danna, vice president/treasurer; Samantha Clarke, secretary; and Allison Scherger, historian.
Marching units’ officers are Megan Thomas, president; Julia Yurchak, vice president; Meghan Murray, secretary; and Victoria Feola, treasurer. Gabrielle Gentile is this year’s Miss Trojan. Victoria Feola and Hanna Neiswander are majorette captains, and Megan Thomas is color guard captain.