We Are the “We/Je Kids”

Meet the students who have used both their dedication and skill to place into the highest ranking bands.


Andrew Houmes

Lauren Marino is pictured playing her flute at the Wind Ensemble MMEA practice concert. Lauren and several other students are members of both Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble, the top two bands at Francis Howell Central.

Many students pass through the doors of the band room everyday. These students come from all kinds of backgrounds, but stand united under one love, their love for music. However, there are some students who pass through these doors for more than just one class. These are the students who have dedicated their lives to the arts, and in FHC band, these are the WeJe kids.

The term “WeJe kids” refers to the unofficial name for the students who are members of both wind ensemble and jazz ensemble, the top two bands a student can place into. Getting into these bands alone is a struggle, but both face their own difficulties. From the moment students get their music for placements, the pressure is on. Junior Alex Done is a member of both wind and jazz ensemble and has been playing her baritone saxophone since sixth grade. For her, the hardest part of placements derived from her own inner thoughts. 

“The preparations I made for [those] auditions were kind of tough because I am a perfectionist,” Done explained. “So, if something wasn’t right, I would sit for hours just trying to fix it.”

Fellow WeJe kid, senior Lauren Marino, has been playing her flute since sixth grade and reflected on how she felt the most challenging part of the audition process was how open the entire process was to each musician’s interpretation.

“They give us a lot of freedom with the music,” Marino stated. “[And] they give us a lot of ways to express ourselves. I think that’s one challenge with it because you don’t know exactly what they’re looking for.”

They give us a lot of freedom with the music [and] they give us a lot of ways to express ourselves. I think that’s one challenge with it because you don’t know exactly what they’re looking for.”

— Lauren Marino

Once the process is over, however, students can finally relax and wait for results to come out. For some, results may be disheartening, but for others they bring joy. After all the time and work students have put in, now they get to see their hard work pay off. Sometimes, the results may even be a little bit surprising.

“I didn’t expect to make wind ensemble my sophomore year because there were two of us and I didn’t practice as much my freshman year, so I was nervous,” Done said. “I was hoping to make jazz ensemble this past year because I practiced super hard and planned for hours on how I was going to do my audition, so here I am this year in jazz with my hard work paying off.”

Senior Trent Pendleton is a six-year band member and part of both wind and jazz ensemble as well. He expressed the rush of emotions he felt after he saw his placement initially.

“It really was a surprise, it really was a wonderful payoff for the hard work. [I was] very excited.” Pendleton said.

This ‘hard work’ often means extensive hours of practicing each week in addition to the work they put forth in school. With each instrument requiring its own unique level of work, the time each student spends practicing their instrument varies. Done, Marino, and Pendleton each gave a general estimate on the amount they practice each week. For example, Done comments on how persistent her practicing is each week.

“I practice everyday of the week, at least two hours a day outside of school.” Done said.

Marino also practices frequently, but says she doesn’t stress it.

“I would say my goal is like an hour [to] thirty minutes a day, [but] that can be a lot sometimes,” Marino stated. “I don’t put too much stress on myself about it if I don’t get to it one day.”

Pendleton also stated how he practices quite often during the week.

“I practice roughly 7 hours a week, an hour a day.” Pendleton said.

Just as well, the amount of dedication these students put forth in band leads to having to make some small sacrifices as well. The time they spend practicing each day takes up time that could be spent doing other hobbies or participating in other social events. 

“With band and especially during the marching band season I lose a lot of free time or time where I can hang out with friends and such,” Marino explained. “There have been friends who have quit band after freshman year… and I just wouldn’t see them during the day because I wouldn’t have any classes with them.”

For the members of both wind and jazz ensemble, band and their instruments have made a major impact in their lives. No matter what they end up doing in the future, they believe that music and what they learned while participating in band will remain a constant in their lives. Done, for example, wants to focus on expanding her horizons and reaching her goals.

“I want myself to continue to grow, not just on what I do, but as a person as well,” Done said. “I want myself to reach goals that I think right now will be difficult. No matter what, the goal will be at my fingertips until I reach even further to get it.”

Pendleton wants to keep music in his life throughout college and beyond.

“My goals for college [and] life is to continue with music. Music is a passion that anyone can pick up and can change lives. I know that first hand!” Pendleton stated.

Marino has other goals in mind for her future, but still feels that music will be heavily involved in her life.

“Job wise, I either want to do something in music or biology. It’s two totally different things,” Marino said. “But this experience in high school that I’ve had so far with music, it’s really pushed me to think about being a music educator myself.” 

To those who wish to become a WeJe kid one day, Marino, Pendleton, and Done all comment on one common theme: practice. Marino, for instance, comments on how anyone can get there with a little work.

“I think anyone can get there at some point,” Marino explained. “As long as you have the essence, work ethic and you just believe that you can do it.”