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HCS Middle, High School Ensembles Rank High on Georgia Music Educators Association Performance Evaluations

HENRY COUNTY, GA – A total of 40 middle and high school bands and choirs representing Henry County Schools (HCS) received Superior and Excellent ratings after participating in the recent Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) Large Group Performance Evaluations.

The HCS groups received exceptional evaluations following recitals held at the McDonough Performing Arts Center from March 18-22, fittingly during Music In Our Schools Month.

GMEA evaluates the musical performance and sight-reading abilities of individuals and ensembles at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Schools across HCS were assessed based on GMEA’s Large Group Performance Evaluation (LGPE) adjudication system:

  • Superior (1): Outstanding performance. Worthy of distinction of being recognized as among the very best. 
  • Excellent (2): Unusually good performance in many respects, but not worthy of the highest rating due to minor defects. A performance of distinctive quality. 
  • Good (3): A good performance, but not one that is outstanding. Shows accomplishment and marked promise but lacks one or more essential qualities. 
  • Fair (4): A performance that shows some obvious weaknesses, generally weak and uncertain. 
  • Poor (5): A performance that reveals much room for improvement. The students reveal almost a complete lack of preparedness and understanding.

“The sight-reading task is one of the most spectacular portions of LGPE,” said HCS Coordinator of Fine Arts Pamela Ward. “Students and directors receive a musical selection they’ve never seen or played, and after six minutes, they must pick up their instruments and play the selection from beginning to end. Many of our bands received a Superior or Excellent rating in sight reading.”

Eagle’s Landing High School (ELHS), Ola High School (OHS), Union Grove High School (UGHS), and Woodland High School (WHS) received straight Superiors (a Superior rating in all judged categories, including sight reading).

More than one performing group represented OHS, UGHS, and WHS, and all received Superior ratings.

“Our bands participate in GMEA’s Large Group Performance Evaluations and receive Superior and Excellent ratings due to the diligence and commitment of our music educators and the passion for music they instill in our students,” Ward added. “Our Board of Education’s investments in the arts demonstrate their commitment to ‘Winning for Kids.’”

Overall, six HCS middle schools and 10 high school bands received Superior ratings, and one middle school and two high school bands received Excellent ratings.

One middle school and seven high school choirs received Superior ratings, and four middle schools and five high school choirs received Excellent ratings.

OHS Intermediate and Advanced Guitar Ensembles received Superior rankings, and Union Grove and Woodland Middle School orchestra programs received straight Superiors.

“We are immensely proud of our students’ remarkable performance,” Board Chair Sophe Pope (Dist. 4) said. “Their achievements reflect their incredible talent as well as the expertise and dedication of our educators who help to further our unwavering commitment to providing a world-class education that encompasses the arts in reflecting the hopes and aspirations of our community.”

The board’s commitment to fostering a thriving arts culture is embedded in its 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan. In seeking to empower students with exceptional opportunities through music, support for band, orchestra, theatre, and chorus in every middle and high school is part of a $6 million allocation that includes visual arts programs in every elementary school.

Funding for the arts has so far resulted in $750,000 invested to replace old band instruments at middle and high schools, $400,000 to upgrade middle and high school choral programming equipment, $350,000 for middle school orchestra programs, and $300,000 for high school orchestra programs.

A $140,000 investment has also enabled McDonough High School (MHS) and ELHS to purchase new marching band uniforms – the first for MHS since years before the school was renamed in 2019 and the first for ELHS in two decades.

Stockbridge High School, Luella High School, and Union Grove High School also benefited from a $240,000 investment in new uniforms.

“The Board of Education has responded to the community’s call for high-quality fine arts programs in our schools,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Carl Knowlton. “Their responsiveness and steadfast support have been instrumental to the success of these exceptional musicians. By investing in the right resources, fostering a culture of creativity, and providing enriching opportunities, the board’s visionary leadership has expanded the world of options for our students.”

HCS’ young musicians have repeatedly proven that the expenditures were worthwhile investments.

In April, OHS’ marching band participated in the Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, D.C. Last year, Dutchtown High School’s (DHS) Sound of Dutchtown marching band received a special invitation to represent Georgia and the U.S. in events commemorating the 79th anniversary of D-Day. The band has also been invited to participate in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade in Hawaii this December. Additionally, WHS’ marching band will perform at the 2025 New Year’s Day Parade in Rome. The parade route will take the students past several historical landmarks, ending at the Piazza del Popolo immediately before the Pope delivers his New Year’s message.

“These achievements go beyond accolades,” said Board Vice Chair Annette Edwards (Dist. 2). “We are nurturing a love for music, promoting collaboration and teamwork, and providing a platform for students to express themselves creatively. The board is committed to excellence in the arts, and what the students have accomplished speaks to the strong foundation built within these programs and how dedicated our music instructors are to ‘Winning for Kids,’ every minute of every day.”

Musical ensembles representing HCS are hitting all the right notes and elevating the district as a hub for musical excellence. The recent GMEA ratings are just one measure of the depth of talent across HCS.

“I commend the students’ commitment to their craft,” Dr. Knowlton added. “I also acknowledge the passionate music educators across Henry County Schools whose expertise and guidance allow us to create opportunities, access, and outcomes for all students. Building on our community’s voice, the board envisions HCS as a destination for the fine arts. Continued strategic investments coupled with successes such as these position us to realize this ambitious goal.”

See the list below for how HCS middle and high school ensembles ranked based on GMEA Large Group Performance Evaluations:


The following bands received a rating of 1 (Superior): 

Middle Schools 

  • Eagle’s Landing Middle School
  • McDonough Middle School
  • Ola Middle School
  • Stockbridge Middle School
  • Union Grove Middle School Seventh Grade Band
  • Union Grove Middle School Eighth Grade Band

High Schools 

  • Dutchtown High School Concert Band
  • Eagle’s Landing High School
  • Hampton High School
  • Locust Grove High School Concert Band
  • Locust Grove High School Symphonic Band 
  • Luella High School
  • McDonough High School 
  • Ola High School Symphonic Band
  • Ola High School Symphonic Winds
  • Ola High School Wind Symphony

The following bands received a rating of 2 (Excellent):

Middle Schools

  • Woodland Middle Symphonic Band

High Schools

  • Dutchtown High School Wind Symphony
  • Woodland High School Symphonic Band


The following choirs received a rating of 1 (Superior): 

Middle Schools

  • Woodland Middle Bella Voce

High Schools

  • Luella High School
  • Ola High School Catria
  • Ola High School Mustang Singers
  • Ola High School Olatones
  • Ola High School Sorraia
  • Woodland High School Mixed Choir
  • Woodland High School Treble Choir

The following choirs received a rating of 2 (Excellent): 

Middle Schools

  • Locust Grove Middle School
  • Ola Middle Sixth Grade
  • Ola Middle Seventh Grade
  • Ola Middle Eighth Grade

High Schools

  • Dutchtown High School
  • Hampton High School
  • McDonough High School
  • Ola High School Caspian
  • Ola High School Falabella


  • Ola High School Intermediate Ensemble (Superior)
  • Ola High School Advanced Ensemble (Superior)


  • Union Grove Middle School (Straight Superiors)
  • Woodland Middle School (Straight Superiors)


About Henry County Schools

Henry County Schools (HCS) is the eighth-largest school district in Georgia, consisting of 52 schools, including two academies, located about 20 minutes south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Over the past 20 years, our community has grown in population from 113,000 residents to over 244,000 residents. Since 1999, student enrollment has grown from 21,000 to 43,000 students, and our number of employees has grown from 3,000 to 6,000.

HCS is “In Pursuit of Exceptional,” taking action to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes so that every student in our school district has Exceptional Support, Exceptional Access, and an Exceptional Future. In 2020, our Board of Education adopted our 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan and laid out a clear vision and mission for Henry County Schools. Our vision is to ensure a high-quality, world-class education for every student, and our mission is to empower all students with exceptional opportunities and access that lead to success in a global society.