UL student to perform in Macy’s Parade band

Photo provided Union Local High School student Elsa Bretz will play her clarinet in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as part of Macy’s Great American Marching Band on Thursday in New York City.

MORRISTOWN — Union Local High School student Elsa Bretz is no ordinary 14-year-old — she entered high school as a sophomore, and she is technically a sophomore at Ohio University Eastern.

Her latest achievement is based on her musical, rather than academic, talents. She was chosen as one of about 250 student musicians across the nation to perform in the Macy’s Great American Marching Band on Thanksgiving Day.

Bretz and her band director, April Linard, are spending the week in New York City rehearsing for the parade and enjoying the sights and sounds of the Big Apple. Bretz will play her clarinet in the band, although she also plays piano and saxophone. She qualified for the band after sending in a clarinet solo recording to the directors with the Macy’s band organization at the end of the 2016-17 school year, when she was in eighth grade.

“They normally only accept juniors and seniors into the band, so it was quite an achievement for her to be chosen when she was only in eighth grade,” Linard said. “Elsa began taking post-secondary classes as an eighth-grader as well. She is an extraordinary student.”

Her father, Alan Bretz, said Elsa has a goal of completing all requirements for a bachelor’s degree by her junior year in high school. She is currently concentrating on physics, chemistry and math courses and carries a 3.975 grade point average at OUE. Her number of high school course credits amassed allowed her to skip her freshman year.

“The school system has never had an eighth-grader go to OUE. She earned her first letter as an eighth-grader in history, and she completed high school honors algebra in two nine-week periods. She is objectively exceptional,” Alan Bretz said.

The Union Local Band Boosters and the community rallied behind Elsa to help fund her trip to New York, holding bake sales and taking donations at football games. The trip will cost Elsa around $2,000, including plane tickets, meals, transportation, lodging, uniform usage and sightseeing tours. Enough money has been raised to cover all costs.

“We have a great set of band boosters and a very supportive community. They really believe in supporting music education, and our administration is very supportive as well,” Linard said. “It’s a great community to teach in.”

The Union Local band has produced qualifying students for the Macy’s band every year since 2014. In 2014, senior Hannah Smith was chosen to play flute in the band, and in 2015 and 2016, tenor saxophone player Jon Flood and percussionist Steven Petrey were chosen as juniors and seniors. All three students are currently pursuing music degrees at various universities.

Linard said while in New York, she and Bretz will see a Broadway play and will visit the 9/11 museum, Times Square and NBC studios.

The Macy’s Great American Marching Band will hold rehearsals for the parade at the Teaneck Armory in Teaneck, N.J.

“We have not been told yet what order we will be placed in the parade. A representative from Macy’s corporate and a representative from NBC will come over to watch us rehearse on the day before the parade to approve the performance, make it shorter or longer and will tell us then what our placement in the parade will be,” Linard said.