SIBLEY, Iowa | Jada Carlson etched her name in the history books for Sibley-Ocheyedan High School this week with her fourth appearance in the Iowa High School All-State Music Festival, one of just a handful of four-time band all-staters who played on Saturday in a concert at Hilton Coliseum on the campus of Iowa State University.
The concert, featuring the all-state band, choir and orchestra, will be televised at 7 p.m. Thanksgiving Day on IPTV.
Carlson, the daughter of Peter and Angie Carlson, of Ashton, Iowa, already had her name in the annals at her high school, in sports. The senior last spring set the school record in the 100-meter hurdles (15.63 seconds) and helped establish Sibley-Ocheyedan standards in the 4X100-meter relay (50.99 seconds) and the shuttle hurdle relay (1:07.38), all qualifiers at the state track meet.
And what might Carlson do for fun as a freshman at the University of South Dakota next year? The center-fielder might try out for softball. "Softball and track are my favorite sports," she said.
Band is also a passion, perhaps a natural outcome for a percussionist whose father has directed the band at Sibley-Ocheyedan for 17 years. Peter Carlson was also an all-stater in band (and choir) during his prep days at Centerville High School in Centerville, South Dakota.
And while the perception pervades that children of coaches or directors have an advantage in extracurricular pursuits, Jada Carlson downplays the notion, saying her father taught and treated her like any other student at Sibley-Ocheyedan. He pushed when he had to, and gave her space to try other areas.
"My dad probably helped me the most in junior high, or my freshman year," Jada Carlson said. "After that, I was on my own to practice."
"Oh, I'd ask her if she'd been practicing," said Peter, who, like his daughter, found percussion as his musical forte.
"When Jada was really young, she always asked me to bring a trumpet home," he said. "So, I brought one home and she played. She also took piano lessons as a first-grader."
But, when it came time to register for the school band in fifth grade, Jada gravitated toward the marimba, snare, tympany and cymbals. On Saturday, she played chimes, vibes and bass drum, the lone four-time all-stater among 13 percussionists performing with the band and orchestra. She was also the only girl among the 13 percussionists.
Eighteen percussionists from Northwest Iowa auditioned for the all-state band in try-outs last month at Storm Lake High School. A judge asked five to return for additional auditions. Carlson, one of the five recalled, was the last to perform a second time. Waiting, she said, tested her nerves.
"I waited about an hour and a half to play again for the judge," she said. "It was nerve-wracking, but it also gave me an opportunity to play everything again and show what I could do."
Two percussionists were ultimately chosen for the all-state band, their names listed on a sheet of paper posted on the wall in the gymnasium at Storm Lake High. Once Carlson saw her name on the list, she shouted and ran to find her father. She hugged him and cried, a four-timer at last.
According to her dad, she's the fourth, four-time band all-stater at Sibley-Ocheyedan, following Val Hulstein, April Kress and Sara Honken.
"Ever since I made all-state as a freshman, this has been a goal," Jada said. She said the fourth and final all-state medal has joined the three other band medals hanging on the wall above her bed at home. There are all sorts of track and cross country medals nearby.
She hasn't limited herself to band and sports, either. Jada Carlson, a National Honor Society student, belted out two solos in the school musical, "Cinderella," two weeks ago as she played the Fairy Godmother.
She sings in the high school's concert choir, jazz choir, chamber choir and show choir. She also plays in the marching band, jazz band and pep band. On Monday, she departed from our interview to prepare for dance team practice.
This winter, she'll participate in speech for the second time. It's an activity, like choir, that has helped Carlson stretch her limits. And while she doesn't always relish the time juggling so much at school, particularly when a pre-calculus assignment awaits, she has started to see the benefits of playing, performing and being a key member of various ensembles and teams.
"It's given me a lot more confidence in myself," she said.