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Loyd Star trumpeter part of first-place win in Italy

A Mississippi band of Lions has proven themselves king of the competition jungle once again by bringing home an international award.

The 144 student musicians in the 2019 Mississippi Lions All-State Band returned from Europe with an unforgettable experience and the top spot in the Lions International Parade of Nations competition.

Kirsten Scroggs, a senior at Loyd Star Attendance Center, was one of those students who saw the wonders of the historic cities of Florence, Rome, Vatican City, Vienna and Milan, and it was in Milan they performed in the competition that draws around 10,000 club members from more than 100 countries.

The first-chair trumpeter and drum major of the Hornets was nervous but excited in the months leading up to the trip and competition.

Scruggs earned a spot in the prestigious honor band’s 24-seat trumpet section after rigorous tryouts at Pearl High School back in November. The auditions included a mixture of scales, a prepared piece and sight-reading of a part for which the student has only a few minutes to prep.

After the first round, Scroggs ranked No. 35.

“I thought I did so well on my sight-reading, but I later found out I did not. I played the whole piece in the wrong time signature,” she said. “After that first week, I didn’t think I’d make it.”

She did well enough all-around, however, to make the cut to the second week. Seven days later, she auditioned again and made a big jump in the order, up to No. 18.

After the second round, the names of all participants were unveiled on a large board, with the 145 accepted all-state members listed at the top under “band,” with unaccepted members listed down the board under “alternates,” “honorable mentions” and “other artists.” Scroggs was trying not to get her hopes up, so she read the board from the bottom-up, searching for her name.

Her mother, April Scroggs, read from the top and found her daughter’s name.

“My momma pointed it out to me,” Scroggs said. “I really didn’t expect to make it. I was terrified, very terrified. The audition my sophomore year was a good experience, and I’m glad I went.”

Scroggs is the first student from Loyd Star to make the Mississippi Lions All-State Band. She plans to take her musical talent to the University of Southern Mississippi after graduating as a Hornet, to study music education and possibly pursue a career as a band director.

Loyd Star band director Jeremy Donald is proud of what his top trumpeter and drum major has achieved.

“She’s a hard-working band member, easily one of the hardest-working kids I’ve ever met.”

Scroggs and the Lions flew out of New Orleans to Italy July 3, where they performed in the parade July 6. They’d practiced several 14-hour days prior to the competition parade on a routine that involved marching past the judges’ station, then pivoting back to face them as they performed.

The band worked hard and efficiently together, Scroggs said, and had the routine down just like they wanted it. The only trouble was the changes that came just before the competition — the judges’ station was relocated to the opposite side of the parade route. Eight days of precision practice now had to be reworked, and the band only had 45 minutes to practice.

“But in this band everybody communicates very well, so we were able to do it,” said Scroggs.

After hours in the parade line waiting their turn to perform — approximately 40 bands played ahead of them — the Mississippi Lions played their 3-minute routine and hoped all of their hard work and last-minute adjustments paid off.

Prior to this year’s competition, the Mississippi band placed first in the competition every year since 2003, except twice — 2008 and 2012 — when the group did not attend the annual convention. Scroggs said the reputation of the band meant they were repeatedly approached for photographs when people saw who they were.

“We were famous for about an hour,” she said.

The next morning winners of the competition were announced during the international Lions Club conference — in meetings the band could not attend. The band members from the Southeast United States’ Magnolia State found out they won in a much-less public way when their director told them the good news — that this year was a repeat top-slot win. It was welcome news to the ears of the teen who’s worked the past couple of years toward this goal.

“We’ve got bragging rights,” Scroggs said, “and that’s pretty cool.”