Santa Claus with Abby Matthews, winner of this year’s Bob Hope Band Scholarship, in New York City on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. Santa and Abby will both be in Thursdahy’s Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. COURTESY OF GROUPPHOTOS.COM

Georgia student wins $10,000 Bob Hope Band Scholarship

A trip to New York City and the opportunity to fly for the first time would have been exciting enough for Abby Matthews. But the clarinet player for the Woodland High School Wildcat Marching Band from Cartersville is also the 2018 recipient of the $10,000 Bob Hope Band Scholarship Award.

In its 15th year, the award is decided on the merit of an an essay competition about Bob Hope and the importance of giving back. Abby will receive $10,000 toward her education and the school band program will receive $10,000.

The announcement was made Tuesday in New York. Matthews and her band mates will be performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which airs at 9 a.m. on NBC.

A junior at Woodland, Abby said music has always been a part of her life: “I started out singing in church and chorus and in middle school learned to play the clarinet.” Besides the music, she said she enjoys the dancing and showmanship of being in the band. One of her favorite numbers is a song called “Hey Baby.”

“There’s a part where we say ‘Hey, Baby” and wrap our arms around each other,” she said. “I love the togetherness and camaraderie we have.”

Although the band has performed in Alabama and Washington, D.C., Matthews had never been as far north as New York. She said she’s a little concerned about what the weather will be like on Thursday.

“We were told they’re having record cold right now,” she said. “I’ll be wearing two pair of long johns!”

Matthews’ special interests and accomplishments include the school Academic Team, Spanish Honors Society, Beta Club, Tri-M Music Honors Society (officer), Band Captain of WHS Marching Band, Student Council and being a member of 4-H where she has shown livestock. She wants to put the scholarship money towards a degree in biology and psychology. She said she’d like to be an OB-GYN.

“I’d like to help women who have reproductive issues,” she said.

Eric Willoughby, director of bands at Woodland High School, said the band will use its award to replace instruments in disrepair.

Thursday’s performance will be Woodland’s first appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. The band will perform “Joyful, Hallelujah!” a medley of music from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, “Ode to Joy” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

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