VAN HORNE — Benton Community School’s pep band came away with a big win in a regional competition organized by West Music, but it’s not keeping the $300 in prize money.
Instead, band members will give it to students they’ve never met at Beckman Catholic High School in Dyersville.
To compete in the online March Music Madness contest, area high school pep bands made videos showcasing their school spirit. The 15 participating bands were organized into two brackets. Voting took place from March 6 to 15.
In round one, Benton beat Aplington-Parkersburg by about 6,000 votes.
“It got pretty heated the first night,” said Adam Gorkow, a Benton senior and band member.
Benton met Independence in round two.
“The round that meant the most was the second round against Independence,” said senior Keaton Betterton. “They’re kind of our rivals.”
Once they’d secured a win in round two, Benton focused its votes on Beckman, which needed a push against Columbus to get to the third round.
“A couple of their kids had asked in an email to me if they would be interested in voting for them, because they were having a hard time getting past Columbus,” and needed the money for instrument repairs, said Scott Weber, director of bands at Benton.
So, he and his kids started voting.
“We stayed up until midnight that final night of the semifinals, trying to get (Beckman) into the finals,” Weber said.
Regardless of the outcome, Benton had already decided to donate its money to Beckman. So, Benton figured, it was a win either way.
If Benton helped Beckman get to the finals and won, Benton could give Beckman $300 on top of the $200 prize the second place school would receive.
Instrument repairs can eat up a program’s budget quickly, Weber said.
“It can repair a couple instruments if it’s a bigger instrument, the baritone sax, for example,” he said. “If it needs new padding, it can pretty much eat up that fund right away.”
In the end, Columbus edged out Beckman by fewer than 1,300 votes to continue into the next round.
Ultimately, Columbus Community took second place in Benton’s bracket. In the first bracket, Grundy Center took first place and North-Linn took second.
But the outcome didn’t change Benton students’ minds about what they were going to do with the $300 in prize money. Weber sent an email to Beckman’s band director telling her they’d get all of it.
Benton students also have taken up a separate collection. As of March 18, they’d collected another $104 for Beckman.
“We were all very shocked and I actually forwarded the email onto students, saying look how awesome this is, and a lot of them replied back very surprised and are already trying to figure out a way to say thank you for such a generous offer,” said Meredith Warren, Beckman band director.
“It just shows you what kind of heart my kids have, and they’re like this the entire year. Not just with something like this, but they always put other people first,” Weber said.Benton will still come out of the experience with some extra money in its coffers, though. Chelsea Savings Bank in Van Horne told Weber on Tuesday that it would donate $300 to the program.