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Mandan band

Mandan High School band members, from left, Katie Cermak, North Skager and Gavin Miller have played in school bands since middle school. Gov. Doug Burgum selected the Mandan High School Concert Band for the Governor's Band and Chorus.

One day, Katie Cermak would like to be a music performer or band director.

“They always tell you to pursue a career in what makes you happy, and for me that would be music,” the Mandan High School junior said. “I’ve had such great band directors over the years that I would love to be able to do what they have done.”

Playing flute in her high school’s Concert Band One, Cermak and her bandmates were selected last week by Gov. Doug Burgum for the 2017-18 Governor’s Official State Band and Chorus, along with the Wahpeton High School Choir.

“These two impressive and accomplished groups exemplify the outstanding musical talent in our state and highlight the importance of music and the arts within our school systems and communities,” Burgum said in a statement.

MHS band director Jon Baumann said his group applied in late February to be chosen. Now selected, he said it's a high honor.

“We talk to our kids when we travel: ‘We’re always representing North Dakota first,’” he said. “To be chosen by the governor, it’s just another great honor for us.”

With 52 students in grades 9-12, Concert Band One is an auditioned group of top instrumental students, Baumann said. The school has 225 students in band programs, including two other concert bands and jazz bands.

Cermak and seniors Gavin Miller and North Skager play together in concert, jazz and marching bands. Last weekend, they also were selected for North Dakota All-State bands.

They said music goes beyond the classroom for them.

“It’s something that sticks with you throughout all of your years,” said Miller, who plays the trumpet.

“It’s like craving that feeling after a concert when you can feel whole and you’ve done something really important and really good,” said Skager, a jazz drummer who picked up the drums from his dad.

All three plan to continue music after high school or in college, with other opportunities such as community bands always an option in the future.

“You can do music for the rest of your life,” Miller said.

Skager said the Governor’s Band and Chorus is a spotlight for the arts.

“The fact that he recognizes a band is really a testament to the fact that he's recognizing the arts and there’s appreciation for the arts still,” he said. “We’re grateful for Gov. Burgum’s selection of us, for sure."

The Governor’s Band and Chorus are invited to perform at certain state functions. Governor’s spokesman Mike Nowatzki said last week that no events are yet scheduled.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or