• John Jantak

Westwood High School band gains international reputation as school celebrates its centenary


PHOTO COURTESY DAN RASSI

The Westwood Senior Band performed at the Quebec English School Board Association (QESBA) meeting on Friday, November 30 at Château Vaudreuil.

The students who play in the band at Westwood Junior and Senior High Schools are earning prestigious recognition for their musical acumen having earned two awards in international competitions since 2017.

Steve Dubinsky, the Music Director at Westwood Junior in Saint-Lazare and Westwood Senior in Hudson, and Dan Rassi, a fundraiser for the band, spoke about the band’s uniqueness and each student’s musical flair, passion, and commitment during an interview with The Journal on December 9.

‘Best in class’

Their most recent success was achieved when 35 band members competed at Walt Disney World in Orlando in March this year. “We won Best in Class and Outstanding Excellence for a Concert Band, said Dubinski.

“It’s quite an accomplishment for a band from Canada considering it was an international event. There were three days of competitions. Everybody got a score. After they ran the scores they gave all the bands a standing – superior, excellent, good or a ‘thank-you for coming’,” Dubinski added.

“Whoever had the highest score in their category after three days of competition won the Mickey Mouse trophy,” he said. Westwood High School won for Best in Class Concert Band. A photo of the award was featured prominently on the cover of the high school’s 2018 winter concert program.

William D. Revelli Award

The year before, the band went to Washington D.C. and won the William D. Revelli Award for Highest Score Overall in the Festival for the 2017 season.

“They’re an accomplished band. They do quite a few competitions every year,” said Dubinski. “We’ve been as far east as Halifax. We’ve also been to Toronto, Markham, and Ottawa, and to New York City and Boston. We go to different places each year.”

The band restarted in 1992 under the direction of David Findley. “At that point it was Hudson High School. It had a long history of great music programs. Our kids have a propensity for art. When you see the things they do with art teacher André Bougie, it’s absolutely fantastic. They’re very committed students and very community oriented,” said Dubinsky.

Westwood centenary

The school originally opened in 1918 as Hudson High School, said Dubinsky. Today, it’s known as Westwood Senior High School. “It was very small building when it opened. There were about 40 students at that time from kindergarten to grade 12.

Over the years, sections were added to the building as the community began to grow. Eventually, the continued growth of Hudson and surrounding municipalities required a second facility to handle the student overflow.

The original facility eventually morphed into two separate campuses – Westwood Junior High School in Saint-Lazare which has about 400 students in grades 7 and 8; and Westwood Senior High, which has about 700 students from grades 9 to 11 on the site of the original school in Hudson.

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Steve Dubinsky (left), the Music Director at Westwood Junior in Saint-Lazare and Westwood Senior in Hudson and Dan Rassi, a fundraiser for the band, are proud of the accomplishments made by band members at both schools.

‘Amazing and incredible band’

“We want our community to know that they have this amazing and incredible high school band right in their backyard. We have concerts throughout the year for the residents of Hudson where they play in elementary schools, for community groups and for their parents,” said Dubinsky.

“The kids are very dedicated to the program and it’s a great pleasure teaching them. They play very well, they come in after school, they do evening concerts – it’s fantastic. And they’re serious about what they do – it’s wonderful,” Dubinsky added.

“They played for the Quebec English School Board Association on November 30. They band got an incredible response from all the commissioners that were there,” said Rassi. “It was amazing. Nobody knew that we had such a strong, talented band. This is what we want our community to know.”

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