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50 Winner band, choir students take talents to Chicago

WINNER -- A 12-hour journey will end with 50 Winner High School students performing at a national music festival in Chicago this weekend. The band and choir students from Winner, along with six chaperones, left for Chicago "bright and early" Thur...

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WINNER - A 12-hour journey will end with 50 Winner High School students performing at a national music festival in Chicago this weekend.

The band and choir students from Winner, along with six chaperones, left for Chicago "bright and early" Thursday morning for the WorldStrides Chicago Heritage Music Festival, according to band and choir director Danielle Catoe.

The festival, which goes from March 23 to 26, will allow students to perform for judges, who will critique their abilities and then provide a clinic-like session with advice to follow, Catoe said.

While there, Winner's two groups of band and choir will compete against other schools of similar size on Saturday, with awards presented later that night. Although the group hopes to place well against its competitors, Catoe said it's more of an educational experience.

"I hope they have a fun time, but I also hope they gain more confidence in their abilities and see other performing groups and where they are and where they could be," she said.

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One aspect that surprised Catoe is the immense support given by the Winner community. Catoe said fundraising for the trip began at the beginning of last year. Since then, they've received more than $10,000 in corporate sponsorships from within Winner, Catoe said.

Catoe has been with the Winner High School for three years, and she said the students have grown a lot since she's arrived and remains confident they'll do well in this weekend's competition.

"It'll be a really good experience for the students," Catoe said.

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