SOUTH PORTLAND — South Portland elementary band director Jen Fletcher has been selected to join band directors from across the country in the 2022 Tournament of Roses Parade. This will be the first parade since being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Jen Fletcher, an elementary band director from the South Portland School Department, has been selected to join band directors from across the country at the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.  Courtesy photo

“I had to apply to be considered for selection, answering questions about my teaching experience, talking about my past mentors in music education, why I decided to become an educator, and what being a music educator means to me,” said Fletcher of the recognition. “Saluting America’s Band Directors selected participants from each state, as well as Canada and Mexico, and I am the sole representative from Maine. 

“I originally applied in December of 2019 and was accepted to be in the group for the 2021 parade, that was later canceled due to the pandemic. Fortunately, all groups that were participating in the 2021 parade were rolled over and granted acceptance into the 2022 parade.” 

On New Year’s Day, the home of the Rose Parade, Pasadena, California, which has been going on for more than a century, hosts the festival of flowers, music and sports.  Fletcher will march in the Rose Parade in honor the band directors that were instrumental in helping her achieve her dreams.

“I think most performers, myself included, watch parades like the Tournament of Roses or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and think, ‘I’d like to do that one day,’ but never get the opportunity,” Fletcher said. “I saw a post about applying for this band in a Facebook group and within an hour I’d submitted my application. It was very much on a whim, and I basically said to myself, ‘If you don’t hit submit right now, you never will.’  The whole theme of our group is to honor band directors across the country. I am fortunate enough to have three incredible band directors, Craig Skeffington, Jean Quinn and Christoper White, that have mentored me throughout my life, so I will be marching in their honor to thank them for everything they have given me.”

The theme for this year’s parade is “Dream, Believe and Achieve.” The parade celebrates educations ability to open doors, open minds and change lives.

I said in a recent email to my students’ families, they will be with me every step of the parade route,” Fletcher said. “They bring me so much joy every day and continually remind me of why I became a teacher.

“I hope this shows my students: Always dream big; sometimes you have to take that leap into the unknown and believe in yourself and if you put effort and passion into the things you love, you can achieve any goal you set.”

Music has always been a passion for Fletcher. She is an alumnus of the South Portland music program and  now works teaching beginning band of 170 fifth-grade students. She is a member of the South Portland High School marching band staff and a member of production staff for the high school’s theater program.

I’ve been playing the saxophone since I was in fifth grade (17 years ago),” said Fletcher. “Since then, I’ve learned just about every band instrument through high school bands and college courses. I will be playing alto saxophone in the parade. We have three songs that the band will be performing as we march: “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “Stars and Stripes Forever” and “Strike Up the Band.” We will also be playing “Sing, Sing, Sing” in a pre-parade performance.”

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