The J.Z. George Marching Band earned all-superior ratings at the Mississippi High School Activities Association's Region 2 State Marching Evaluations at Grenada High School.
According to director Lane Thompson, it was a wonderful experience for the young Carroll County musicians.
"They were extremely excited to get all-superior," Thompson said. "They were so excited they wanted to take the trophy home, but they can't. It will remain at the school."
For Thompson and the Jaguar Marching Band, it's their first all-superior rating after posting excellent ratings for the past two years. In Region 2, the band competed against area schools Eupora and Calhoun City. The J.Z. George band is in its sixth year and its third year as a marching band.
"This is an extraordinary accomplishment; we're very young with only three seniors," Thompson said. "We graduated a lot of seniors last year."
After a 30-plus year hiatus, the J.Z. George Band returned in 2007 after the program was canceled in 1974, and Thompson said with their recent accomplishments, it means the re-establishment of tradition and excellence.
"This is giving the students something to be proud of, and it builds excitement among the students," Thompson said.
Thompson takes pride in the band, and he said the diverse group of county students reflect what is so good about Carroll County.
"It is a reflection of the community," Thompson said. "Music is being taught here. We're a country band that is back in the saddle."
One of the things that Thompson, the Stewart native, is most proud of is that 95 percent of his students graduate and go on to college.
Former J.Z. George band members have gone on to play in collegiate bands like Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alcorn State, Mississippi Valley State and Holmes Community College. One student also received a scholarship to Tougaloo College.
Next month, three students will audition for the all-state band at Pearl High School. According to Thompson, trumpeter Monae Nall, horn player Colin Different and oboist Sergio Rodriguez will audition.
"To see all of them doing something well is something to be proud of," Thompson said. "This is a great investment that the school board made with this band hall and instruments. The band is back and doing great."