Evening fundraiser featured student performances, handmade crafts, and culinary delights
Woodland High School’s jazz choir and jazz band held their 9th annual Taste of Jazz fundraising event on Thursday (March 24), an evening concert where attendees listen to live jazz performances while dining on desserts. Food is prepared by the school’s culinary arts students and attendees took home handmade wooden souvenir boxes made by students taking the construction trades course, a new class offered this year in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department.
This year’s Taste of Jazz marks the return of the event after a two-year hiatus since COVID-19 health and safety guidelines in 2021 prevented it from taking place.
“This year’s event was a breath of fresh air; it felt so good to invite an audience in to share with us in our talented students and have them be able to smile back at us as we performed for them,” said Brent LiaBraaten, Woodland High School’s choir teacher. “In many ways, this was the best Taste of Jazz to date – the band and choir performed brilliantly, the culinary student volunteers were praised for their professionalism, and the construction trade contribution of custom cedar boxes were also the targets of many accolades.”
LiaBraaten came up with the idea for the popular event nearly a decade ago. “I had attended an event like it in college, and I thought it could bring a lot of positive attention to our music programs as well as the other student groups involved,” he said. “I constantly heard about our culinary arts and floral teams competing in different competitions, and this seemed like another way to highlight the amazing student talent we have and foster here at Woodland High School.”
Funds raised from the Taste of Jazz’s ticket sales go entirely to support the different student programs involved in putting on the event. “These monies directly impact our floriculture, culinary arts, and construction trades groups, offering our students the ability to compete in competitions, attend festivals, and experience their respective art forms beyond the walls of the school,” said LiaBraaten. “Additionally, the night provides a showcase of some of the amazing things happening at Woodland High School; not only showing off the talent of our students, but also the passion our teaching staff has for our amazing kids.”
While the music programs at Woodland Public Schools present several concerts throughout the year, none are as highly anticipated as Taste of Jazz, with tickets selling out within mere days of the event’s announcement. “Community members are always impressed when they come to Taste of Jazz; there is a palpable buzz around the excitement stemming from performers who get to share their hard work as well as community members enjoying that hard work,” said LiaBraaten. “That positive energy helps encourage our students exploring music and CTE courses at the high school.”
Jazz Choir and Jazz Band went on to compete at Commencement Bay Jazz Festival
Just two days following the Taste of Jazz event, the high school’s Jazz Choir and Jazz Band competed at the Commencement Bay Jazz Festival on Saturday, March 26 with the Jazz Choir placing 2nd in their division. Three students were recognized for their exception performances and received medals for Outstanding Musician and Outstanding Soloists: Harmony Finley, DJ Riley, and Cody Yoder.
While the Jazz Band narrowly missed bringing home a trophy, their performance was also outstanding. “Our band played an amazing set with all of our kids playing their hearts out, and Cody Yoder and DJ Riley each earned musicianship awards for their performances in the band, too,” said LiaBraaten. “All of our jazz students came away having learned a lot and experiencing jazz performance in a way that most of them haven’t been able to in years; the competition pumped a lot of energy and enthusiasm into an already-growing music program, and I don’t think any of us can wait to see what comes next.’’
Learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates students and serves the community, by visiting the dedicated news webpage at www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd
Information provided by Woodland School District.