Thirteen Sycamore High School students were selected to participate in the 2018 Illinois Music Education (ILMEA) Conference recently held at the Peoria Civic Center in Peoria, Illinois. Sycamore High School has been represented at the prestigious All-State Conference numerous times and Sycamore again has one of the largest contingents in the state of All-State musicians in attendance. Students were selected via a rigorous audition process from the district ILMEA festival held earlier this year. Illinois has 9 districts throughout the state, and each district was able to send their top students to be represented at this All-State Conference. The all-state music experience is unlike any other musical experience.  Students from the entire state come together, are placed into performing ensembles, and put together a concert of challenging music in less than three days.

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All-State musicians were treated to a special rally as they departed for the weekend festival. Fellow students, faculty, and family gathered in the High School Choir Room for a brief send-off. Scott Mertens comments in a brief speech, “These students were not selected for All-State just because of their talent, but also because of their dedication and choice to spend extra time practicing the audition music. They chose to do something, and do it well. All State is an unique and exciting opportunity for these high school musicians that they will always remember.” He also acknowledged the private teachers of these students and their parents and families for their unending support. Upon departure, the SHS Band played the School Song and they received a special escort including celebratory lights and sirens provided by the Sycamore Police Department. We are very proud of these student’s accomplishments and representation of Sycamore High School and Community School District #427.

Congratulations to the following students from Sycamore High School who have the distinguished honor of being selected for All-State:

All-State Honors Choir:  Kjelden Breidenbach, Kaitlin Jacobson, Dana Nielsen, Alexander Smith

All-State Choir:  Jen Diemer

All-State Band:  Ryan Loitz

All-State Orchestra Winds:  Matthew Rogers

All-State Orchestra: Ben Briscoe, Grace Frielink, Julia Luo, Kelsey Mulligan, Joon Park, Tsavo Walker


During the festival weekend, participants attended numerous rehearsals, attended workshops, panel discussions and master classes, and performed a concert at the Peoria Civic Center.  The opportunity for students and staff to attend this festival was made possible by the Sycamore Music Boosters. Profits from their annual fundraisers are dedicated to support the students and staff of Sycamore music students.

10th Annual A Note To Remember Event Was A Tremendous Success!

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Karl Montzka Trio

The 10th Annual Sycamore Music Boosters “A Note to Remember” event recently held at Blumen Gardens was a huge success.   Guests attended an elegant evening of jazz and classical music including delicious hors d’oeuvres and dessert buffet, and numerous raffle baskets and silent auction items.  The featured musical guests were the Karl Montzka Trio. Karl Montzka, a Sycamore High School alumni and a 2015 SHS Music Hall of Fame member, treated attendees with his piano musicianship. His ensemble included his brother, Eric Montkza – also a Sycamore High School alumni and 2015 Music Hall of Fame member, on drum set and bassist Larry Kohut filled Blumen Gardens for a solid hour with the smooth sounds of jazz. The Sycamore High School String Ensemble offered elegant chamber music at the beginning of the event, the Sycamore High School Jazz Choir gave their first performance of the season, and the Sycamore High School Jazz Ensemble performed a variety of great tunes that evening.  Jazz In Progress closed out the night as guests enjoyed dancing and listening to their fun big band music.

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SHS Jazz Ensemble

The 2018 Sycamore High School Music Hall of Fame inductees were also introduced during the “A Note to Remember” event. The class of 2018 includes Christine (Wild) Monteiro and Jerry Taylor. The official induction ceremony was held earlier that afternoon in the Sycamore High School Auditorium. Be sure to stop by the new Music Hall of Fame display case across the entrance into the High School Auditorium.


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Jazz In Progress

Each year the event grows in popularity with another almost sold-out event this year.  “A Note to Remember” raises support for the Sycamore District Music Programs and is sponsored by the Sycamore Music Boosters.  The Boosters program strives to support every student enrolled in any music program in the district from Kindergarten through post-graduation. Their mission statement is to “Enrich the quality of music education, performance, and awareness in the Sycamore Schools and community.”

It is with deep gratitude that the Sycamore Music Boosters thank all sponsors and donors that helped support this event and made it so successful.  This event’s sponsors include Ideal Industries, Northern Rehab Physical Therapy Specialists, Prairie View Animal Hospital, Kohl’s, Austin’s Violin Shop, Oral and Maxillo Facial Surgeons for Northern Illinois-Dr. Todd Anderson and Dr. David Junck, State Farm Insurance – Jeff Keicher, Music Connection, First Midwest Bank, Dr. Bryan and Julie Kruskol, Illini Security Systems, and Hillside Restaurant. We also extend our gratitude to the following in-kind donations from Shaw Media – Daily Chronicle and Midweek, MorningStar Media Group and InVironments Magazine, LePrint Express and New Values Magazine, Jamrah Middle Eastern Cuisine, Shawn’s Coffee Shop, Taxco of Sycamore, St. Mary’s Parish in Sycamore, Victoria Shipman of Essentials, and Trittenhaus Design.

Announcing the 2018 SHS Music Hall of Fame Inductees!

We are very excited to announce the 2018 Sycamore High School Music Hall of Fame inductees include Jerry Taylor and Christine Monteiro!

In its sixth year, the Sycamore Music Boosters will host an official ceremony to induct the 2018 Music Hall of Fame honorees on Saturday, February 10, in the Sycamore High School Auditorium at 2:30 pm.  This brief afternoon program will include a formal introduction of each inductee and may include musical performances and short tribute speeches. The Sycamore High School All-State musicians will also be recognized during this ceremony. The updated 2018 trophy case located across the hall from the auditorium will be unveiled and the program concludes with a light reception. The public is welcome and invited to attend this free ceremony.

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Jerry Taylor, Ovation Award Recipient

Jerry Taylor, Ovation Award recipient, graduated from Sycamore High School in 1946.  Throughout high school, Jerry would sing with every musical group possible. As a freshman, he was honored to be asked to sing with the Senior Quartet.  He played saxophone in both orchestra and band, and played baritone sax with the marching band.  Jerry sang tenor with every all-male group he could get into.  He also sang in the high school mixed chorus.

Jerry’s musical upbringing started at an early age.  His mother, who was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse, taught him the basics of harmony and melody.  And his father was a member of the country band Hoosier Hotshots in the 1920’s and 30’s.  Jerry has sung for funerals and weddings and – when requested – still does to this present day.

In 1984, he travelled to Nashville and recorded a country music record entitled The Mellow Country Side of Jerry Taylor. In 2009, he was invited to sing ”The Lord’s Prayer” at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Tuscombia, Alabama. Later that year, Jerry produced a CD of Christmas Music along with 20 other musicians and singers. All the proceeds from this album went to the needy and disabled elderly people in the state of Alabama.

For many years, Jerry sang with the Meyer Quartet, and then with the Meyer Trio.  He also sang with the Kishwaukee Barbershop Chorus for nearly 15 years.  Jerry continues to sing with the Celebration Chorale, and he sings at Oak Crest Retirement Center every Saturday, with the John Skillman Band. In 2013, he was voted Volunteer of the Year at Oak Crest. Jerry now sings with Christian Senior Ministry at five locations throughout DeKalb County each week.  This is Jerry’s 71st year singing with the church choir at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sycamore.

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Christine (Wild) Monteiro, Legacy Award Recipient

Christine (Wild) Monteiro, Legacy Award recipient, graduated from Sycamore High School in 1987.  While in high school, she participated in the Marching Band, Concert Band, Pep Band, and Jazz Band, as well as Orchestra.  She was a member of the Pit Orchestra for the high school Musicals.  Additionally, she was involved in both Concert and Swing Choirs and sang with Madrigals. During high school, Christine participated in IMEA District Band for two years, IMEA District Chorus for one year, IMEA All-State Honors Choir for one year, and she won Division I awards all four years of high school for Vocal and Trumpet solos in the IMEA Solo & Ensemble Contest.  Finally, Christine won the John Phillip Sousa Award.

Christine attended college at both Western Illinois University and Northern Illinois University.  She earned her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Music Performance from NIU.  She was a part of the NIU Concert Choir, Madrigals, and Opera Workshop.  Christine played in the NIU Wind Ensemble and the WIU Concert Choir, Madrigals, and Octagon (Vocal Jazz Octet), and Wind Ensemble.

In 1998, Christine was awarded the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Artist Award Finalist where she received 4th place. In 2004, Christine was an overall finalist in the Lotte Lehman Foundation Cybersing International and the winner of the Audience Favorite Prize.

Today, Christine continues to perform with numerous vocal and music groups. She plays trumpet with the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra, is the lead trumpet and female vocalist for Jazz in Progress, and is the featured vocalist and trumpet player in the DeKalb Municipal Band. Christine has been a featured vocalist with Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, the Stateline Music Foundation Festival Chorus, the Kishwaukee Area Concert Band, and the DeKalb Festival Chorus.

Christine currently serves as the Music Director of both the Celebration Chorale and the Waterman Community Choir.  She has played trumpet in the pit orchestra for 24 Stage Coach Players musical productions, and she is their current Board Treasurer.  Christine also serves as the Musical Director for Children’s Community Theatre. Christine’s voice and trumpet can be heard on over 20 CD recordings, including her three solo albums, Grace, Love in Any Language, and Christmas Treasures.

These inductees will also be honored and announced at the annual A Note to Remember event on February 10 at Blumen Gardens from 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm. Tickets are $30.00 per person and are available at the Sycamore High School main office, Northern Rehab Physical Therapy Specialists 3266 Sycamore Road office in DeKalb, Kar Fre Flowers, Shawn’s Deli, via E-mail at or by calling 815.751.8388.

ILMEA All-State Send Off! Congratulations to 13 students going to State!

Please Join Us for the 


Wednesday, January 24

3:30 pm in the SHS Choir Room

The Sycamore Music Department is pleased to congratulate thirteen students that will be attending the prestigious ILMEA All-State Music Conference next week! These students were selected on the basis of their strong auditions and placement in the All-District festivals this fall.
The Sycamore Music Boosters would like to invite you to attend a brief send-off ceremony this Wednesday, January 24, in the High School Choir Room at 3:30 pm.  Students will be introduced, Mr. Mertens will speak briefly, and the Pep Band will play as they depart for the bus.  Everyone is welcome to attend!  Please contact Sycamore Music Boosters President, Lisa Smith, at with further questions.
Congratulations to the following students from Sycamore High School who have the distinguished honor of being selected for All-State:
All-State Honors Choir:  Kjelden Breidenbach, Kaitlin Jacobson, Dana Nielsen, Alexander Smith
All-State Choir: Jen Diemer
All-State Band: Ryan Loitz
All-State Orchestra:  Ben Briscoe, Grace Frielink, Julia Luo, Kelsey Mulligan, Joon Park, Tsavo Walker 
All-State Orchestra Winds: Matthew Rogers
We are very proud of all of the musicians who auditioned for these ensembles, and we are happy to have such a strong group to represent Sycamore. Way to go!
The All-State Grand Finale Concert will be at the Peoria Civic Center on Saturday, January 27 at 1:00 pm. (Admission required)
The All-State Honors Grand Finale Concert will be at the Peoria Civic Center on Saturday, January 27 at 3:00 pm. (Admission required)

SHS Alum Karl Montzka Trio Headlines 10th Annual “Note To Remember” Event

On Saturday, February 10, the Sycamore Music Boosters is excited to welcome the Karl Montzka Trio, Jazz In Progress, Sycamore High School (SHS) Jazz Ensemble, SHS Jazz Choir, and SHS String Ensemble as they host their 10th annual night of jazz and classical music entitled “A Note to Remember”. This fundraiser will be held at Blumen Gardens in Sycamore from 7:00pm – 11:00pm. Additionally, two talented musicians will be introduced and honored as our 2018 SHS Music Hall of Fame inductees. An elegant, sweet and savory hors d’oeuvres buffet and coffee bar will be included along with a raffle and silent auction of hundreds of gifts and prizes generously donated by local businesses.

Karl MontzkaSycamore High School alumni and Chicagoland freelance pianist/keyboardist Karl Montzka has performed with his own group at the 1998 and 2008 Chicago Jazz Festival, 1998 Iowa City Jazz Festival, as well as many venues across the country. In November of 2009, Karl had the honor of playing a USO tour of Afghanistan with Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band, and worked with them most recently in Hawaii for the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Montzka has also played for numerous Broadway in Chicago productions, including Lion King, Wicked, Billy Elliot, The Book of Mormon, and national tours of Motown and The Last Ship. He currently works as a substitute conductor and keyboardist for the hit show, Hamilton. Karl looks forward to returning once again to his Sycamore roots to perform with his trio at this event. His brother, Eric Montzka, will be joining the trio on drums along with bassist Larry Kohut.

Jazz In Progress 2017Jazz In Progress formed from the interest of several local musicians wanting to establish a musical group. Rehearsals began in March 2012, under the direction of Dave Lehman with approximately 20 musicians. Jazz In Progress made their public debut on June 30, 2012, as a part of the Celebration Chorale “Salute to the USO” concert.  One year later they were happy to be a part of “Freedom”, with the same group. Jazz In Progress has been privileged to play at several local events and venues including the NIU College of Education Jazz Bistro, the Gavin Wilson Family Variety Show, the grand opening of DeKalb Sycamore Chevy, Heritage Woods, Bethany Healthcare, St. Mary’s Lancer Legacy Ball, Downtown Sycamore’s Tuesdays on the Town, The House Café, and annual shows at the Hopkins Park Dee Palmer Bandshell. This is their third time performing at A Note to Remember and are very excited to be returning for another fun performance!

The 2018 Sycamore High School Music Hall of Fame inductees will also be introduced at this event. Two Sycamore community members have been chosen and inductees will be announced soon. A separate induction ceremony including the unveiling of the updated 2018 trophy case is scheduled for February 10 in the Sycamore High School Auditorium at 2:30pm; the public is invited to attend and admission is free to this ceremony.

Sponsors for A Note to Remember currently include Northern Rehab Physical Therapy Specialists, InVironments Magazine, Shaw Media – the Daily Chronicle and The Midweek, Jamrah Middle Eastern Cuisine, Austin’s Violin Shop, The Music Connection, LePrint Express & New Values Magazine, Illini Security Systems, and the Hillside Restaurant. Sponsorship opportunities are still available; please see our web site Note to Remember tab to download the sponsor form (click here>>).

A limited number of tickets are available for this adult-only event at $30.00 per person which includes musical entertainment, hors d’oeuvres, coffee bar, silent auction and raffle.  A cash bar will also be available. Seating opens at 7:00 pm. Tickets are on sale now at the Sycamore High School main office, Northern Rehab Physical Therapy Specialists 3266 Sycamore Road office in DeKalb, Kar Fre Flowers, Shawn’s Coffee Shop, via E-mail at or by calling 815.751.8388.


The Sycamore Music Boosters recently received a special donation from the Curzon Family of Sycamore. This gift was given at the annual Autumn Craft & Treasures Market Craft Fair this past October in support of the Sycamore Music Boosters to help aid the music programs and music students in honor of the late Mary A. Curzon.

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Pitured here (left to right) are Mary Ellen Curzon Price, Cathie Lohse, Joe Curzon, and Dan Curzon.

The Curzon Family started the “Wrapped In Love” charitable fund to honor their mother, Mary, after she passed away last year.

All eleven of the Curzon children graduated from Sycamore High School over a span of fifteen years. The Curzon’s sell warm throws, scarfs and other items to raise money and awareness, and proceeds are donated to their long-time family church, St. Mary’s in Sycamore. The family also gives other donations to various non-profit groups that the family feels make a difference in their community. Dan, the youngest of the eleven Curzon children believes their Mother would have been proud of their efforts. He comments, “Our Mother always preached in giving back and paying it forward – and most importantly, never forgetting where you came from especially when it came to the community of Sycamore which she truly loved. SHS played a very important role in the success of our family and still serves as a special place for us all. And the Sycamore Music Boosters embodies the very best of what our community is all about as their impact on the youth of Sycamore is so profound”. Sycamore Music Boosters Autumn Craft & Treasures Market General Manager, Cathie Lohse, comments, “We are so honored to be chosen to receive this donation from the Curzon Family in honor of their Mother. This gift will definitely assist in supporting all of the outstanding programs, educational opportunities, and events the music program offers our students.”

The Sycamore Music Department and the Sycamore Music Boosters, a non-profit volunteer organization that supports all students in grades K-12, encourages others to consider making a donation and support these music programs.  Future opportunities for additional donors are always welcome! Contributions in any amount may be given by individuals, families, local businesses, and even corporations.  For more information, please contact Scott Mertens, Sycamore Community School District Music Department Chair, at, or Sycamore Music Boosters President Lisa Smith, at


Three students from Sycamore High School and nine from Sycamore Middle School have been selected to participate in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Central/North Central Division Honors Choir at their biennial conference in February. ACDA is a nonprofit music-education organization whose goals outline the association’s dedication to the advancement of choral music. The association members are strong advocates for music in the schools and provide honors and enrichment opportunities, like this festival choir, for students.

After learning required music and sending a recorded audition to ACDA, these 12 students were selected from hundreds of submissions that came from students in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. In February, these Sycamore choir members will spend three days in Chicago and rehearse with renowned choral conductors in preparation for a concert at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park. These highly selective choirs are not only led by notable directors, but are often used to premiere works by leading composers in choral music.

Selection for this opportunity is quite an honor, and we are proud of their admirable accomplishment!

ACDA Honors Choir 2018- Middle School


Congratulations to Sycamore High School students pictured above: Rachael Johnson, Alexander Smith, Vani Subramony!

ACDA Honors Choir 2018- Middle School


Congratulations to Sycamore Middle School students pictured above: Kaitlyn Bowman, Cassandra Chamoun, Gabriella Juday, Samuel McDonald, Ryan Russo, Halle Schmit, Kameron Schroeder, Madelyn Sedevie, and Olivia Torian!


The Sycamore Music Boosters are pleased to help support these students by providing partial funding for this experience. The Sycamore Music Boosters support all students in grades K-12 in various music programs offered within the district. We are proud of these students!


Thirty-eight high school and fifty-one middle school students from the Sycamore School District were recently selected to participate in the 2017 Illinois Music Educators Association (ILMEA) All-District Orchestras, Bands, Jazz Bands, and Choirs.

Students who made All-District groups performed audition material for judges in competitive auditions in October.  The students who were selected spend one day in rehearsal, and the groups perform later the same day. The All-District Orchestra festival was held on Saturday, November 11 at Augustana College in Rock Island, and the All-District Jazz festival was also held on November 11 at Rochelle Township High School.  The All-District Band and Choir festivals will be held on Saturday, November 18 at DeKalb High School. Concert performances will be in the Gym with performance times for the Senior Band/Chorus at 7pm and Junior Mixed Chorus at 4pm.

Students from Sycamore High School who have been selected for the ILMEA All-District festivals include:


Soprano – Kaitlyn Jacobson, Rachael Johnson, Dana Nielsen, Ashley Parks; Alto – Cossette Breidenbach, Jen Diemer, Kaylie Emmer, Tenor – Alex Smith; Bass – Kjelden Breidenbach.

HIGH SCHOOL CHOIR (freshmen participating in junior festival):

Soprano – Melissa Lerohl, Vani Subramony; Baritone – Jeremy Peterson.


Violin – Ben Briscoe, Grace Gruner, Julia Luo, Madeline McCormick, Rebekah Nielsen, Joon Park, Erin Templin; Viola – Kelsey Mulligan, Charlotte Salis; Cello – Kjelden Breidenbach, Grace Frielink, Courtney Mulligan, Tsavo Walker; Bass – William Kane.


Oboe – Matthew Rogers; French Horn – Kimberly Hohlfeld; Trumpet – Ebad Rana.



Flute – Payton Coldren; Oboe – Tommy Kloosterman; Clarinet – Lorin Kmieciak; Alto Saxophone – Ryan Loitz; Baritone Sax – Jakob Kelly; Trombone – Karl Peterson; Euphonium – Madeline Kessler.


Baritone Sax – Jakob Kelly; Trombone – Karl Peterson.

Students from Sycamore Middle School who have been selected for the ILMEA district festivals include:


Oboe – Jake Rundle; Bassoon – Ryan Blanken; Clarinet – Alex Grados, Chloe Harbecke, Adam Zeller, Miranda Zhang; Baritone Sax – Trevor Blanken;  Trumpet – Noah Ament, Tryggve Vilaseca; French Horn – Aidan Dempsey, Sabrina Ezell; Trombone – Sam Crutcher, Colin Wunner; Tuba – Vinny Brito.


Trumpet – Conrad Drufke; Trombone – Hendrix Kruis, Colin Wunner.


Sopranos – Ava Bickner, Kaitlyn Bowman, Cassandra Chamoun, Kaleigh Ibarra, Charlotte Sharp, Jill Thomas; Altos – Olivia Byrd, Ryan Russo, Olivia Torian; Baritone – Sam McDonald, Kameron Schroeder.


Violin – Maxim Breidenbach, Sofi Briscoe, Emma Fredericks, Katrina Ingalls, Stephanie Kim, McKenna Nonnenmann, Eva Peterson, Sarah Siddiqui, Ritta Wi; Viola – Jules Breidenbach, Emily Bychowski, Rebeca DasNeves, Elizabeth Kleckner, Alaina Olson, Tryggve Vilaseca; Cello – Ethan Bode, Avery DeRuyter, Ella Follman, Austin Gerdes, Natalia Hulseberg, Luke Templin; Bass – Daniel Bos, Isaac Ward.


Thank You For Another Successful Craft Fair Event!

Thank You Music NotesThe 45th annual Sycamore Music Boosters Autumn Craft and Treasures Market held during the recent Pumpkin Festival weekend at the Sycamore High School Field House was a tremendous success!   It is with deep gratitude that we thank all of our Music Booster families – each parent, student, family member, friend, teacher and staff member that volunteered at the Craft Fair fundraiser! Whether you baked pies, worked a shift, sent a donation, attended the craft fair, or helped in any other way, you helped support our mission: “Enriching the quality of music education, performance and awareness in the Sycamore schools and community.” Our appreciation is also extended to our partner and sponsor Heartland Bank, the Craft Fair vendors, the Southeast, North, West, and North Grove Choir members, Sycamore School District Administration, Athletics, and Custodial Staff, the Suter Company, Casey’s General Store, Farm & Fleet, Family Sports Center, Shawn’s Deli, Elleson’s Bakery, Country Store and Catering, Eggleston’s, Sigma Alpha Iota Music Sorority, Kappa Kappy Psi Band Fraternity,  Sycamore Park District and Golf Course, Ann & Jim Tucker, Jovanovich family, Jill Tikkun, Leslie Hecht, and Zabrina Burford.  We extend our sincere gratitude to everyone that assisted in making this another successful fundraiser during the Pumpkin Festival weekend!

With much appreciation,

Autumn Craft and Treasures Market Committee: Cathie Lohse, Kristine Ohman, Debbie Baugus, Jeff Hecht, Deb Loitz, Lisa Smith, Clare Dempsey, and John McBride

Sycamore Middle School Music Students Selected for State-Wide Honor Choir

Nine Sycamore Middle School 6th grade choir students have been selected to participate in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Illinois State Honor Choir at their Fall Convention in October. ACDA is a nonprofit music-education organization whose goals outline the association’s dedication to the advancement of choral music. The association members are strong advocates for music in the schools and provide honors and enrichment opportunities, like this festival choir, for students.

On October 28, the invited Sycamore students will attend the convention at the College of DuPage and join other students from across the state in rehearsals with noted choral conductor, Emily Ellsworth, before performing a concert that afternoon. Congratulations to HatieJane Alexander, Sofia DasNeves, Lilly Faulhaber, Aurora Hilligoss, Liliana Jennings, Gabriel Jovanovich, Layla Musich, Kyla Prather, and Laynee Sosin! Everyone is proud of their accomplishments and representation of Sycamore Middle School and Sycamore Community School District #427.

SMS Choir Students Participating at ACDA 2017