PHS Student named MPAC October Music Student of the Month

parsippany-troy hills
Front Row (L-r) Claire Oplinger, Grade 11, Morristown High School; Evan Casaleggio, Grade 8, Richard Butler School; Isabella Diaz, Grade 8, John Hill School; Perri Gish, Grade 12, Randolph High School; Emily Hughes, Grade 11, Whippany Park High School; Megan Wu, Grade 8, The Peck School; Second Row: Patrick Bourke, Grade 8, Randolph Middle School; Matthew Oyales, Grade 11, Mount Olive High School; Skyler Walters, Grade 8, Harding Township School; Charlie Zaybekian, Grade 8, Mountain View Middle School; Ethan Kaplan, Grade 12, Parsippany High School;

PARSIPPANY — Musicians from Parsippany, Randolph, Butler, Boonton, Whippany, Morristown, Flanders, New Vernon, Roxbury and Mendham were honored as Mayo Performing Arts Center’s October Music Students of the Month prior to the Sunday, October 1 performance by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

The students were recognized for their achievements on stage prior to the concert and had the opportunity to meet members of Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Students were nominated by their teachers and were chosen by the Theatre’s Education Department based on their commitment to and excellence in the performing arts. The Theatre will honor a group of students every month throughout the season and invites area teachers to nominate students for this honor. Students will be invited to perform at a year-end recital in June.

Parsippany Music Student of the Month was Ethan Kaplan. Ethan is a senior at Parsippany High School; Ethan was nominated by Gregory Dalakian. Ethan Kaplan has been a dedicated member of the PHS band program during his entire high school career.  He has been a standout member of nearly all our ensembles, especially our Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble. Ethan has also successfully auditioned into the NAFME All-National Concert Band, NJ All-State Wind Ensemble, NJ Region 1 Wind Ensemble, and North Jersey Area Band Wind Ensemble since his freshman year. Ethan is a hard-working and very talented young musician, very deserving of this recognition.  

Among other students being honored were

Patrick Bourke
Grade 8, Randolph Middle School, Randolph; Nominated by Thomas Davidson. Patrick Bourke is an 8th grader at Randolph Middle School. Violin was the start of Patrick’s interest in music at Ironia Elementary School in 4th grade.  The tuba captured Patrick’s interest in 5th grade because it was big, shiny, and noisy. Patrick has been nominated and participate in the 6th grade North Jersey School Music Association Elementary Honors Band, and during 7th grade, he auditioned for Jr. Region Band placing 9th out of 20 students. Outside of school band, Patrick takes weekly private tuba lessons with Mr. Russel Branch. He enjoys participating in the annual tuba Christmas program in Morristown and this past summer, the Chester-Mendham band camp.

Evan Casaleggio
Grade 8, Richard Butler School, Butler; Nominated by Lyn Lowndes Evan plays the French horn for Concert Band, trumpet for Jazz Band, and Mellophone for the Butler High School Marching Band.  He has been a member of the Richard Butler Middle School Band program or the last four years, and the Jazz Band for the last two.  Evan also participated in the North Jersey Area Band last year.  Evan has grown as a musician and matured into a nice young adult.  We are very lucky to have him in the Richard Butler School Band.

Isabella Diaz
Grade 8, John Hill School, Boonton; Nominated by Yvonne Manca. Isabella Diaz has been part of the John Hill School band since 6th grade.  She started playing clarinet that year and has excelled at her instrument.  She moved quickly into the advanced band and is now one of the top players.  She is able to play over the break with great agility and speed.  She is an asset to our band.

Perri Gish
Grade 12, Randolph High School, Randolph; Nominated by Dawn Russo. Perri is our head Drum Major this year and she is doing an outstanding job.  She is so well prepared, thinks of things that I have forgotten, has a great way with the band and shows true leadership.  She is training two new drum majors and is doing a great job.

Emily Hughes
Grade 11, Whippany Park High School, Whippany; Nominated by Carl Sabatino. Emily is a thoughtful hardworking musician who is always ready to take on a challenge. Her commitment and dedication to being the best musician she can be are surpassed only by her leadership within the band. She was the trumpet section leader this past year and went above and beyond what was asked of her on a regular basis.  As a result the trumpet section was one of the best we had in the marching band.  Emily is an outstanding musician and fine young lady. We are fortunate to have her in our program. 

Claire Oplinger
Grade 11, Morristown High School, Morristown; Nominated by Michael Russo. Claire is an outstanding and dedicated student.  She has developed her skills as a musician and been involved in many aspects of the Band Program for the past two years. She is a flautist in the Morristown High School Wind Ensemble and a Section Leader for the Marching Band. She also has performed in the Pit Orchestra.  Claire has proved by participating in these activities that she can be responsible and manager her time well. She has successfully auditioned for many Honor Bands including 1st Chair Piccolo for the North Jersey Area Symphonic Band and Flute in the Region 1 Symphonic Band. Claire possess great desire and words very hard to achieve her goals.

Matthew Oyales
Grade 11, Mount Olive High School, Flanders; Nominated by Darrell Hendricks Matthew is a clarinet/alto saxophone students at Mount Olive High School.  Matt participates with every ensemble at Mount Olive High School in addition to playing with community ensembles in the Morris County area.  Matt is a fantastic student academically and shares his enthusiasm academically and artistically through his fellow students.

Skyler Walters
Grade 8, Harding Township School, New Vernon; Nominated by Tim Alworth. Skylar consistently goes above and beyond. She is one of the top trumpet students and is currently first chair. She always volunteers for solos and is unafraid to make mistakes if it leads to improvement. She takes time to help other students and is always positive in rehearsals and in the hallway. She constantly is encouraging the younger players and helping them with their parts. She is an invaluable member of the band and jazz band and an easy selection for Outstanding Band Member.

Kathleen Walsh
Grade 12, Roxbury High School, Roxbury; Nominated by Jeffrey Conrad. Kathleen Walsh has been accepted into the National Association for Music Educators All-National Band.  She is a leader in the music program and a principal player in the Roxbury High School Honors Wind Symphony. She is involved in the marching program as drum major. Kathleen has been a member of the Easter Wind Symphony Youth Band and has actively performed chamber music within the community. Kathleen would like to pursue a career in music and works diligently to improve herself and contribute positively to the community.

Megan Wu
Grade 8, The Peck School, Morristown; Nominated by Andrew Lyman. Megan is a very accomplished and advanced flutist for an 8h grader. She is a member of the NJ Youth Symphony, and has been for a few years.  She is currently in their orchestra program and performs regularly with NJ Youth Symphony.  Megan has bene featured on flute at Peck School concerts, and has done a magnificent job.  Megan’s reading skills are very advanced as she can sight read at a high level, has mastered concertos, and is a musical leader within our school’s chamber ensemble.

Charlie Zaybekian
Grade 8, Mountain View Middle School, Mendham; Nominated by Leigh Carpenter. Charlie is an amazing musician.  He has the technical skills and music theory knowledge of a musician much older than he is.  He is always on task and trying to improve himself.  He is a self-directed learner and has volunteered for many solos in his years at Mountain View.  More importantly, he has taken other students under his wing and mentored them.  Charlie plays baritone saxophone.  In a band with few low instruments, at times, he is the sole bass line in the band.  He has graciously volunteered to help out our younger band also since they have no bass instruments at all.  It is a pleasure to work with this wonderful young man of character and great musical ability.

Mayo Performing Arts Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, presents a wide range of programs that entertain, enrich, and educate the diverse population of the region and enhance the economic vitality of Northern New Jersey. The 2017-2018 season is made possible, in part, by a grant the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as support received from the F.M. Kirby Foundation and numerous corporations, foundations and individuals. The Mayo Performing Arts Center has been designated a Major Presenting Organization by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Mayo Performing Arts Center was named 2016 Outstanding Historic Theatre by the League of Historic American Theatres, and is ranked in the top 50 mid-sized performing arts centers by Pollstar Magazine.



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Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989. Covering a wide range of events. Executive Board Member Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce. President of Kiwanis Club of Greater Parsippany. Vice Chairman of Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board.