Morton, Illinois is a community located one hundred sixty miles from both Chicago and St. Louis, just outside Peoria, Illinois. Morton Community Unit School District 709 includes one high school, one junior high school, and four grade schools. Morton High School, with an enrollment of approximately 930, includes students from the rural communities of Morton and Groveland. The Music Department at Morton High School is made up of the Morton Choirs, Morton Orchestra, and Morton Bands. One-third of the student body is enrolled in music ensembles at Morton High School. Morton High School was recognized as a GRAMMY Signature School Semifinalist, a 2017 and 2018 NAMM Foundation Best Community for Music Education, and is a 2016 NAMM Foundation SupportMusic Merit Award recipient. The Morton High School Marching Band received the Sudler Shield from the John Philip Sousa Foundation in 2017.
The Morton band program is under the direction of Jeff Neavor and serves the music education development of over 190 wind, percussion, and guard students at Morton High School. The goal of Morton Bands is to develop students’ lifelong love of music and to expand their musical achievement through appropriate performance opportunities in Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Winds, Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, Marching Band, Brass Ensemble, and Color Guard. Considerable emphasis is placed on individual student growth and achievement. Each year, multiple band members are selected for the Illinois Music Education Association District Honor Band and Orchestra, All-State Bands and Orchestras, and various honor ensembles throughout the state.
Program offerings not only include the development of students’ musical interest, but also help students learn valuable life lessons such as teamwork, discipline, creativity, and a strong commitment to excellence. The program has a fully integrated leadership program and places strong emphasis on family, love, and support of others. Students not only reach for high musical and academic achievement; they also strive to build positive relationships with fellow peers, staff, and community members.
Morton High School’s Wind Ensemble has performed numerous times at the prestigious Illinois SuperState Concert Band Festival at the University of Illinois. The group has also performed at the Illinois Music Education Conference. The Morton High School Marching Band is a Bands of America Grand National Semifinalist and a Bands of America St. Louis Super Regional Class AA Champion. The band has performed in the Presidential Inaugural Parade and has won five Illinois Governor’s Trophy awards. At the state level, the Morton High School Marching Band has won the Illinois State Class 2A Championship for the past 14 years.