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Benton Pep Band Wins Regional Competition, Gives Away Prize

VAN HORNE, Iowa - Benton Community School's pep band came away with a big win in a regional competition from West Music, but it's not keeping the $300 in prize money. The competition encouraged pep bands to make videos showing why they're the best.

When voting started for the "March Music Madness" competition, the bracket showed Benton and Columbus Community schools out ahead of the rest of the pack.

"It got pretty heated the first night," said Adam Gorkow, Benton High School senior and band member.

"The round that meant the most was the second round against Independence," said senior Keaton Betterton. "They're kind of our rivals and it felt good to lay the smack down."

But Beckman Catholic High School in Dyersville needed a push to get to the third round.

Scott Weber Band Dir., Benton Community Schools
"A couple of their kids had asked in an email to me if they would be interested in voting for them, because they were having a hard time getting past Columbus," said Scott Weber, band director at Benton.

So, he and his kids started voting.

"They didn't care if they won, as long as they got the 2nd place $200," said Betterton.

"It can repair a couple instruments if it's a bigger instrument, the baritone sax, for example," said Weber. "If it needs new padding, it can pretty much eat up that fund right away."

Weber added that the last couple nights of voting were stressful. "We stayed up until midnight that final night of the semifinals, trying to get [Beckman] into the finals."

In the end, Columbus edged out Beckman by fewer than 1,300 votes. But by that time, several of Weber's students already knew what they'd do with their $300 in prize money. Weber sent an email to Beckman's band director, telling them they'd get all of it.

"We were all very shocked and I actually forwarded the email onto students, saying look how awesome this is, and a lot of them replied back very surprised and area already trying to figure out a way to say thank you for such a generous offer," said Meredith Warren, band director at Beckman.

In the end, Weber takes none of the credit for the idea.

"It just shows you what kind of heart my kids have, and they're like this the entire year. Not just with something like this, but they always put other people first," Weber said.

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