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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 26, 1979, Page 1

Bands in concert

A 91-piece Mount Ayr Community high school band and 22-piece jazz band will appear in concert tonight (Thursday, April 26) at 7:30 p.m. in the high school gym. The theme for the varied musical program is "Holiday of Sound". Merrill PERRY is director.

A highlight of the program will be the presentation of the Arion Award given to the outstanding senior musician in the band. A preliminary ballot by the band selected the following five candidates: Helen BOESE, Julie HAROVER, Cathy MANNING, Lee MEKUS and Shelly WILKINS.

The winner on the final ballot will, tonight, receive the medal and plaque presented by a representative of the Mount Ayr Lions Club. Each year since 1952, the local Lions have given this award.

During the playing of "Rhapsody" by the concert band; Carol MICKAEL will appear as the baritone soloist. A trombone quartet composed of Cathy MANNING, Kevin PULLIAM, Bryan TAYLOR and Marilyn BRYAN, and a trumpet duet of Shelly WILKINS and Lisa KLEJCH, also will be featured during this first portion of the program.

Other numbers to be played by the concert band in their appearance at the beginning of the program include: "Stars and Stripes March", by Sousa and "American Civil War Fantasy" by Bilik.

Then the jazz band will give their rendition of "Another Shade of Blue"; "Get It On"; "Star Dust" and "Something for Shelly."

The concert band will come.

Page 1

Name 5 for Arion award

Five candidates have been named for the Arion award, presented annually to the outstanding senior member of the Mount Ayr Community high school band.

Seniors nominated for the award, sponsored by the Mount Ayr Lions, include Helen BOESE, flute; Julie HAROVER, French horn; Cathy MANNIN, trombone; Lee MEKUS, tuba; and Shelly WILKINS, trumpet.

The winner is selected by ballot by members of the MACHS Raider Band.

Arion award winners in the past include the following:

1952, Geraldine GALLOWAY.   1953, Mary Jane EDDY.
1954, Robert CLARKE.  1955, Phyllis GUNTER.
1956, Dan STEELE.   1957, Su Jo DEFENBAUGH.
1958, Edith CREGEEN.   1959, Judith BECK.
1960, Paul HANSEN.   1961, John PETERSEN.
1962, Helen RAUCH.   1963, Linda SHAFER.
1964, John HOFFMAN.   1965, Jane MERCER.
1966, Collus LAWHEAD.   1967, Alice MINNICK.
1968, Jeannie JACKSON.   1969, Neil RINEHART.
1970, Anne HAROVER.   1971, Lesa PERRY.
1972, Paula HIXSON.   1973, David McNEILL.
1974, Judy KIBURZ.   1975, David ROED.
1976, David PERRY.   1977, Jean IRVING.
1978, Richard SICKELS.   1979, Shelly WILKINS.
1980, Martha WAUGH. 

Click on thumbnail photo or the caption below to see an enlarged view of the photograph.
Click on your browser's "back button" to return to this webpage.

Jane Mercer


Jeanne Jackson

Above photographs courtesy of Mike Avitt, May of 2015


Collus Lawhead


David McNeill


Jill Kiburz


Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, May 3, 1979, Page 1

Shelly WILKINS, MACHS senior, joined a distinguished list of past Mount Ayr students last Thursday evening when she was presented as the 1970 Arion award winner. Shelly is shown above, center, with Merrill PERRY, MACHS band director; Ken BURRIGHT, Lions club representative, Shelly and her parents,Rev. and Mrs. Merlin WILKINS. Shelly's qualifications, even compared to those who received the award since it waas first given back in 1952, were exceptional and consisted of outstanding work in scholarship, music, a varied list of other school, community and church activities and general good citizenship. The awards are sponsored annually by the Mount Ayr Lions club to encourage leadership and broaden school interest.

Mount Ayr Record News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 25, 2013

Arion Award winners announced

Two winners for the 2013 Arion Award were announced at Monday's Merrill Perry Band Concert. Jennifer BLAIR and April SHIELDS were presented the award by John THORPE, president of the Mount Ayr Lions, sponsor of the award. The award honors the top senior band member each year.

Pictured are (L-R) parents James and Suzanne BLAIR, winner Jennifer BLAIR, winner April SHIELDS, parents Kim and Dave SHEILDS, THORPE and 5-12 band director Greg STORHOFF.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wallace receives Arion award

Senior Allison WALLACE was named the 2014 recipient of the Arion Award as the top band student at Mount Ayr Community high school. The award is sponsored annually by the Lions Club.

Pictured are (L-R) parents Kurt WALLACE and Lynne WALLACE, Allison WALLACE, local Lions representative John THORPE and MAC band director Greg STOFHOFF. The award was presented during the Merrill V. PERRY band concert Monday night.

NOTE: Other Arion winners have been:

1981, Brent WILSON.   1982, Kevin PULLIAM.
1983, Kevin MYERS.   1984, Doug GREENE.
1985, Amy STEPHENS.   1986, Malinda STRINGHAM.
1987, David GREENE.   1988, Jerry NOBLE.
1989, Andrea MEKUS.   1990, ___________.
1991, ___________.    1992, Brian SCHAFER.
1993, Justin AKERS.   1994, ___________.
1995, Amy SHAFER.   1996, Ami PATEL.
1997, Aaron COMER.   1998, ___________.
1999, ___________.   2000, Shannon NORRIS.
2001, Tyson COMER.   2002, Landi McFARLAND.
2003, Clara TERRELL.   2004, Rachel SOBOTKA.
2005, ___________.   2006, ___________.
2007, ___________.   2008, ___________.
2009, ___________.   2010, ___________.
2011, ___________.   2012, ___________.
2013, Jennifer BLAIR
            & April SHIELDS.
   2014, Allison WALLACE.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 09, 2015, Page 8

Arion Award winners

Arion Award winners Neesie Brand, Blake Roberts and Grant Staats were honored at Monday's Merrill V. Perry band concert. Pictured are (front row, L-R) Ron Brand, Rhonda Brand, Neesie Brand, Janell Staats and Grant Staats; (back row) John Thorpe (representing the Mount Ayr Lions Club), Mark Roberts, Blake Roberts, Teresa Roberts, Fred Staats and MAC band director Greg Storhoff.

The Arion Award, sponsored by Lions Internatonal, recognizes the top band students each year.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 28, 2016, Page 10

Arion Award to Alex Young

The Arion Award for the top senior music student was given to Alex Young of Monday's 7-12 spring band concert. Pictured are director Greg Storhoff, Tami Larson, Alex Young, Bill Young and Carol Cason.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, May 14, 2015, Page 13

By Mike Avitt

Sometimes I think I'm not as smart as I look. For the past four decades I thought the Arion Award was established by the Mount Ayr Community High School. You know, Arion - Ayrian. Made sense to me but I missed the mark.

The Arion Award was established in 1948 but I couldn't find out who or what established it. The award was first given out in the Mount Ayr High School in 1952 and has been sponsored by the Mount Ayr Lions Club for as long as I know. The name Arion comes from the Greek and refers to ancient musicians in Greece who sang and played an instrument similar to a lyre.

This week's picture was taken in early May 1968 during the Mount Ayr High School Spring Concert. Ezra Rice, who was my eighth grade homeroom teacher, presents the award as he was president of the Lions Club that year. Next we see Mr. and Mrs. George Jackson standing next to their daughter Jeanne. Mount Ayr band director Merrill Perry completes the photo.

This year three students were Arion Award winners and, to my knowledge, this is the first time there have been multiple winners in the same year. They were Neesie Brand, Blake Roberts, and Grant Staats, John Thorpe, presenting the Lions Club, presented the awards.

The May 4, 1972 edition of the Mount Ayr Record-News gives us the names of the first twenty-one Mount Ayr High School Arion Award recipients and they are: Geraldine Galloway, 1952; Mary Jane Eddy, 1953; Robert Clarke, 1954; Phyllis Gunter, 1955; Dan Steele, 1956; Su Jo Defenbaugh, 1957; Edith Cregeen, 1958; Judith Beck, 1959; Paul Hansen, 1960; John Peterson, 1961; Helen Rauch, 1962; Linda Shafer, 1963; John Hoffman, 1964; Jane Mercer, 1965; Collus Lawhead, 1966; Alice Minnick, 1967; Jeanne Jackson, 1968; Neil Rinehart, 1969; Anne Harover, 1970; Lesa Perry, 1971; and Paula Hixson, 1972.

In the next article we'll look at some Arion Award winners after 1972 and we'll also see that non-winners have had great success in the music world.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, May 28, 2015, Page 11

By Mike Avitt

The Arion Award is given to the outstanding musical seniors at the high school level. Jane Mercer won it in 1965 and is shown leading the Mount Ayr High School Band in 1965. In the background is Mount Ayr Band Director Merrill Perry and a singing group which might be the Choral Club of Ringgold County's Federated Women's Club.

In the last article I mentioned there were multiple Arion Award winners this year and I was unable to recall if that had ever happened before. Well, it has. In 2013 Jennifer Blair and April Shields shared the Arion Award.

I also said I would write about Arion Award winners who made music a profession. But I should also include those who made music their livelihood, like Dr. Collus Lawhead. He won the award in 1966 and enjoyed 40-plus years in Ringgold Singers.

I don't have a full list of Arion Award winners nor do I know much about their careers, but I'll give you what I have.

Alice Minnick received the Arion Award in 1967 and became an instrumental band instructor in central Iowa. Other Arion Award winners who became instrumental music teachers and the year they won are David Perry (1976) and Aaron Comer (1997). David, of course, is Merrill's son and my step-brother. Merrill's daughter, Lesa, won the Arion Award in 1971 and is currently a vocal music teacher in a suburb of Phoenix, AZ.

I found an interesting bit of information about 1982 Arion Award winner Kevin Pulliam. He also won the award for most outstanding vocal music student, the first time that had happened. I don't know what he did with all that musical talent.

Rich Sickels, the 1978 winner, has played the drums for Mickey Gilley among others, and the 1981 winner, Brent Wilson, currently tours and plays guitar for country star Sara Evans. There have been many more who played music professionally, but I'll close with a very interesting year, 1993.

Justin Akers, a most accomplished pianist, won the Arion Award that year. Justin has played at many local events and has many fans. There were two other talented musicians that year who did not win, Mike Shafer and Nathan Smith. Mike, son of Bob and Sheila Shafer, is a vocal music teacher in Minnesota and I've heard great things about his career. Nathan is the son of Alan and Valley Smith and holds a doctorate degree in piano performance. He also composes his own music.

As I said, I don't know about all the musicians who played or sang at Mount Ayr High School, so send me your information and We'll continue this topic another week.

NOTE: The Arion Award was established in 1948 to give national recognition to junior and senior class members chosen by their schools for outstanding achievement in band, orchestra or chorus. Students who receive Arion Awards attain both academic and community standing. Because of its prestige, the Arion Award has been a major factor in obtaining scholarship offers. The Arion Award fo outstanding musical achievement may be provided by the school sponoring the award or it may be sponsored by a business, professional or fraternal organization within the community and presented by the chief executive.

The custom of bestowing valuable gifts on outstanding musicians goes back more than 2,000 years to the time of Arion. Mythology tells us that this semi-legendary poet and musician lived about 625 B.C. He is said to have given literary form to the ancient dithyramb, a song or poem of a wild and exalted nature.

The most popular musician of his time, Arion was showered with precious gifts wherever he traveled. After a particularly successful tour of Sicily and Magna Graecia, Arion was returning home on a Corinthian vessel when the sight of his treasures aroused the greed of the ship's crew. They decided to put him to death in order to possess his riches. As a last favor, Arion begged permission to sing a parting song. The request from so famous a musician was granted. Standing on the deck in full minstrel attire, he sang a dirge while playing a haunting melody on his lyre. Arion then threw himself into the sea, but instead of drowning he was miraculously carried to safety by a dolphin charmed by his music. Arriving at Corinth before the ship, Arion told his story to his friend, Periander, ruler of that city. Determined to learn the truth, Periander summoned the sailors before him and demanded to know what had become of Arion. He was told that Arion had remained behind at Tarentum. Suddenly they were confronted by Arion himself. The sailors confessed their guilt and were punished. Early Greek historians refer to a bronze figure at Tarentum said to represent Arion standing on the back of a friendly dolphin. Today Arion's lyre and the dolphin are still visible in the constellations Lyra and Delphinus. SOURCE ~

Transcriptions and notes by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2012; updated May of 2013 & April of 2014; May of 2015; September of 2015; May of 2017

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