LA ROMAINE High School is thirsty for victory in this year's edition of the National Junior Panorama Competition after failing to get past the preliminary round last year.
Principal Rajesh Sirjue, speaking to Newsday after the school's band performed Kees Dieffanthaller’s Savannah Grass for the judges on Tuesday, said he was certain of victory this time around.
“The children have been working very hard over the last few months, even throughout the holidays. When everybody was vacationing, they were here and they were working.
“They have done exceptionally well,” he said pointing out that many of the players never played a pan before.
He said, at his school, education is a holistic affair.
“It is not just about books. Our children have a penchant for music and the arts and we realise we need to go in this direction”
He said the school recently started a subject called steelpan manufacturing in which they start with the raw material and create a finished perfect pan.
“Hatters approached us. They wanted to give back to the community and they wanted to focus on the children in more challenged areas. La Romaine falls into that category.
“When they approached us and we realised with the steelpan manufacturing subject this was the perfect avenue to create that interest, to motivate the kids.
“It’s not just about producing music and producing the pan, it’s about getting these children off the streets, getting them involved in something positive and making a change.”
He said of the 60 players in the school’s band, 11 had been approached to join Hatter’s junior pan side.
La Romaine High School was one for bands that faced the judges on Tuesday as they sought one of the ten places in the finals which takes place at the Queen’s Park Savannah on January 26.
Bruce Roberts of the Multicultural Music Programme unit of the Ministry of Education said six schools were scheduled for judging but the short Carnival season had caused some of them to withdraw.
He said approximately 35 primary and 20 plus secondary schools had registered for competition but between registration and the start of the preliminary judging on Monday, “a number of schools have dropped out because they were just not ready to perform.”
He said, because of the short season, the Carnival schedule had to be adjusted to accommodate events at the Savannah.
“The prelims are very early. It started on Monday and will continue over the next eight days. We go to Tobago on Thursday and will judge primary schools next week.”
The four schools that performed on Tuesday were El Dorado Secondary playing Erphaan Alves’s Soca Global, Pleasantville Secondary performing Trouble in the Morning by Jevaughn Jones, Naparima Girls’and Naparima College combined doing an arrangement of Aaron Duncan’s Back to Basics and La Romaine High.
Penal Secondary and Holy Faith Convent pulled out of the competition.
Roberts spoke to the media at Hatter’s panyard where students of La Romaine High School performed for the judges.
The rain delayed the start of the performance and pans had to be dried off before the players could strike a note.
However, they had supporters dancing and applauding their rendition of Savannah Grass arranged by their music teachers Sheldon Mc Shine and Devon James.
Naps Combined Steel Orchestra which faced judges at CAL Skiffle panyard is the defending champ and is hoping to repeat that victory.