Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Some Good News


School keeps late student's music alive

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

NORTH COLLEGE HILL - Mike Westermen wanted to be a band director. But at 17, the North College Hill High School student's life was cut short.

Now, nearly three years after he was struck by a car and killed while on a family trip in South Carolina, students at his school continue to remember the gifted musician and honor his memory with a scholarship for students like him.

"It's such a nice thing for Mike's memory and for the kids who shared Mike's dream of being a band director," said Kim Trytten, director of bands at North College Hill.

This Friday at 7 p.m. in the performing arts center, 1620 W. Galbraith Road, the school will host its third "Mike's Night," a benefit concert with the proceeds going to the scholarship fund.

Performers include Reveal Unknown, a group of North College Hill seniors who were friends of Westermen, the Groesbeck Methodist Church Choir, of which Westermen was a member, and Alicia Townsend, the first recipient of the $1,000 Mike Westermen Scholarship and a freshman music major at Wright State University.

Trytten, who describes Westermen as a born performer and one of the best musicians he's had in the band, said the event has grown every year and the students still recognize its importance and meaning.

"We're still close enough to the year of Mike's death that a lot of kids remember him. This year's seniors were in high school when he was here," he said.

And an unfinished musical score by Westermen remains in circulation. After his death, a staff arranger for the Cincinnati Pops completed it, and the North College Hill band performed the piece, "The Power of One," at its spring concert and at graduation.

The Cincinnati Youth Wind Ensemble and the All-Ohio State Fair Band, both of which Westermen had performed with, have asked about the piece and are looking to perform it.

As for the concert, Trytten plans to continue it at least until he retires from the school, and he hopes it will continue indefinitely.

"Mike was a bright flame here, and everybody misses him, but time passes and it gets easier to remember him without a lump in your throat," he said.

Students show their colors

Colerain Middle School students raised $500 to donate to the committee that is responsible for keeping the American flags on the Roebling Suspension Bridge .

About 15 eighth-graders in Jonathan Kuehnle's social studies class organized the effort, but students and staff at the 750-student school donated to the cause. Last year, the school raised $100 for the same cause after Sept. 11.

One student, Robert Lockland, collected $40 in one day, the most of any student, by collecting a dollar to stop singing, Kuehnle said.

Child-aid effort honored

Hamilton County received a 2003 Counties Care for Kids Award for its Every Child Succeeds program. The national award is given annually by the National Association of Counties. Hamilton County was one of eight to receive the award.

The program, a collaboration among 15 community agencies ranging from health care to education, is targeted to help at-risk, first-time mothers and their children.

Allen Howard is on vacation. Karen Vance will write "Some Good News" until he returns April 8. If you have a good-news story to share, e-mail kvance@fuse.net.




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