Ellie Hurst plays trumpet

Sioux Center High School senior Ellie Hurst recently qualified for the Iowa All-State Music Festival for her fourth year in a row. Although the festival was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hurst said qualifying for it again was gratifying.

SIOUX CENTER—Ellie Hurst remembers going to the Iowa All-State Music Festival as a high school freshman and watching the seniors who qualified all four years for it be recognized.

Hurst, a senior at Sioux Center High School, recently achieved that same accomplishment.

“It just feels like a lot of hard work has paid off, like the hours that I put into it,” she said. “It’s a really gratifying feeling.”

Hurst plays trumpet and said she enjoys the sense of community that comes with the extracurricular activity.

“A lot of my closest friends are in the band and I really enjoy making music with the other members in the band. It’s a really great time,” she said.

“And not even within the Sioux Center band but also other bands in the area, like when I go to honor band or all-state auditions or even like solo and ensemble or competitions. There are a bunch of people who both I know and don’t know. Everyone’s so friendly, they wave and say ‘Hi’ when you’re passing through the hallways and there’s just such a great sense of community.”

The audition process for all-state candidates was conducted differently this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of going to a school in the area to audition in person, students recorded videos of themselves playing music and then uploaded the recordings to the Iowa High School Music Association website.

Hurst said the virtual process was a much different experience than previous years, but it allowed her the opportunity to do multiple takes before sending in the final submission video.

She also has been using technology to continue her private music lessons with Kevin Linder, a trumpet instructor at Northwestern College in Orange City.

“Typically, I’d meet with him once a week in person, but during the pandemic — especially during lockdown — we would have to have our lessons over Zoom meets instead of face to face,” she said. “Sometimes technology can be technology and it would be difficult, but we still were able to get our lessons in, which I’m very grateful for.”

The Sioux Center High School band also has had to switch up its rehearsal setup this academic year by practicing in the auditorium to more easily spread out.

Although the All-State Music Festival will not take place this year due to the pandemic, Hurst is looking forward to performing in band and ensemble concerts throughout the remainder of her senior year.

“I love performing. Some of the greatest moments I think are during audition days or performance days when you can feel the energy in the room and everyone’s anxious but we’re all in it together,” she said.

Sioux Center band director Meghan Powell said Hurst “has always been a fantastic musician” and is a leader in other extracurricular activities such as show choir, dance and cross country.

“She is just so incredibly busy and can manage her time and just a great student all around,” Powell said.

Hurst plans to continue her involvement in music after high school at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, where she plans to pursue a pre-dental program.


In a typical year, the top students in N’West Iowa’s high school bands, choruses and orchestras would perform in the 74th annual All-State Music Festival Concert in Ames Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 19-21.

Virtual auditions for the festival were held in October, in which students recorded themselves playing musical pieces and then submitted them to the Iowa High School Music Association. However, the festival was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Forty-four students in N’West Iowa nonetheless proved themselves worthy of all-state honors. They were:


  • Anna Van Aartsen, sophomore, soprano, second year.


  • Kaylee Linden, sophomore, alto, second year.
  • Trevor Oloff, senior, tenor, third year.


  • Kaitlyn Bruinsma, sophomore, French horn, first year.
  • Madeline Heemstra, freshman, viola, first year.
  • Elijah Hoey, sophomore, bass, first year.
  • Hannah Hulstein, junior, string bass, third year.
  • Trevor Sanson, senior, bass, first year.
  • Ashlyn Vander Stelt, senior, soprano, second year.


  • William Alexander, senior, cello, third year.
  • Samuel Heikens, senior, percussion, fourth year.


  • Ada Borer, junior, soprano, first year.
  • Kellen De Kok, senior, French horn, second year
  • Rose Hoogers, senior, soprano, first year.
  • Gracia Scheaffer sophomore, soprano, first year.
  • Alex Van Surksum, junior, tuba, first year.


  • James Dagel, senior, French horn, third year.


  • Dylan Bruhn, senior, bass, first year.
  • Jaedalyn De Goei, freshman, alto, first year.
  • Sophia Else, senior, soprano, second year.
  • Reese Faber, sophomore, bass, second year.
  • Ellie Hurst, senior, trumpet, fourth year.
  • William Hurst, sophomore, tenor, second year.
  • Annika Jahn, junior, alto saxophone, first year.
  • Ella Jahn, sophomore, trumpet, first year.
  • Carsyn Pottebaum, senior, alto, first year.
  • Philip Shippy, senior, tenor, first year.
  • Erika TeGrotenhuis, senior, alto, first year.
  • Katie TeStroete, sophomore, soprano, first year.
  • Micah Truesdell, sophomore, cello, second year.
  • Ashlyn Van Voorst, junior, alto, second year.
  • Samantha Vermeer, senior, alto, second year.


  • Edwin Buiter, senior, trombone, first year.
  • Courtney Joiner, junior, clarinet, second year.
  • Kaeley Meyer, junior, violin, third year.
  • Gabrielle Miedema, senior, violin, second year.
  • Casey Oolman, junior, violin, second year.
  • Adriana Sandbulte, senior, violin, first year.
  • JoyLyn Vande Berg, sophomore, viola, second year.


  • Bradley Balster, sophomore, euphonium, first year.
  • Hannah Huyser, junior, tenor saxophone, first year.
  • Madeline Johnson, sophomore, clarinet, first year.
  • Katrina Lombard, junior, alto, first year.


  • Breanna Ten Pas, senior, soprano, first year.