High notes: Area students perform with state fair band

When Mary Mowrey, a 2013 graduate of St. Wendelin High School, was younger, she said she would join the All-Ohio State Fair Band when she was older.

Now that she is older, she got the opportunity and took it.

“Yes, I am (glad I did),” she said.

Mowrey played the flute and piccolo in the band, and this summer marked her third and final time participating. She said the first year was a little eye-opening.

“Once the fair started, it was a lot of fun,” she said.

Mowrey said she made many friends and was sad to say her time in the band was over.

“I am going to Ursuline College on a track scholarship and studying mathematics education for high school,” she said.

Cassi Traunero, a senior at Columbian High School, also played the flute and piccolo in this year’s state fair band.

“That was my second year (in it),” she said.

Traunero said she decided to apply last year because she loves going to different band activities. She said she was nervous at first.

“But then it was just an amazing experience,” she said.

Traunero said she would recommend the experience to anyone, and she applied again this year because it was a great experience.

“I had such a good time and made lots of new friends,” she said.

Traunero said learned how to be a better leader in a section. It was a good experience because different people from different parts of the state are able to come together and make something that sounds good, she said.

Traunero said she had some old friends from last year and met some new people this year.

“The experience was once-in-a-lifetime,” she said.

Several natives served on the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir staff during the state fair.

Joe Mileski, who graduated from Calvert High School in 2008 and from Ohio Northern University in 2012 with a major in mathematics with a concentration in teacher education, served on the choir’s staff for the fifth time.

He also participated in the choir as a student in 2008.

Mileski, who teaches high school math at Cardinal Stritch, said he had applied to be a counselor-in-training. He was informed there was not a spot, but there was a spot on the staff.

He said the community that is built at the fair keeps him going back. Strong bonds are formed with the intensity of what the choir has to get done in three weeks, he said.

This year, Mileski served on the equipment staff, so he moved risers and sound equipment, and set-up and tore down for each concert.

“There’s five of us total,” he said of the equipment staff.

Mileski said the position is intense, and the staff usually is at a venue about half an hour before the choir arrives.

“Obviously, as staff members, we’re the ones that recruit the hardest,” he said.

Mileki said he plans to return as a staff member next year. Central and southeast Ohio have a strong representation, but the northwest corner of the state is not well-represented in the choir and on the staff, he said.

Joshua Senn, a 2009 Seneca East High School graduate who is starting his fifth year at Ohio State University studying music education, has served on the choir’s staff for three years. He also served as a counselor-in-training and was a three-year member of the choir.

This year, he was the volunteer administrative assistant.

He said he did anything officials asked him to and helped with the equipment and office staffs.

“I helped on music staff but not a whole lot,” he said.

Senn said it always is fun being with the choir again, and every year is a little different because of the students who come in. He said a highlight was finally getting to meet people whose names he had been seeing on paper.

“I worked in the office with the director all summer,” he said.

Senn said he enjoyed getting to meet the singers. They come from all over the state, have different backgrounds and way of singing and are taught in their own high school but end up being one cohesive unit when put together on the risers.

He said it still is amazing to him the bond they can have because of music.