by Karen Mead-Elford, staff writer
Mr. Michael Tolrud received the prestigious Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association District V Band Director of the Year award at the Monday, Dec. 12 Owosso School Board meeting. Tolrud is the band director at Owosso Middle School where he diligently works with other members of the Owosso Public Schools music education team including Head Band Director Jillian Schlagel, Assistant Band Director Jordan Sterk, and school choral directors; Kirsten Schaffert and Jessica Nieuwkoop.
The District Band Director of the Year honor now places Tolrud in with two other finalists nominated for the State Band Director of the Year award. The winner will be announced in late January 2017.
OMS Principal Richard Collins had informally announced the honor at the OMS Band Concert Tuesday, Dec. 6 to a full audience in the school auditorium. Tolrud, who has been teaching at the middle school for 18 years, received considerable applause over the announcement.
“Mr. Tolrud is loved by students, parents, and staff at OMS,” shared Collins. “He is a true advocate of arts and kids. And he’s very accommodating of the kids’ schedules. His biggest contribution is he loves kids, and he wants them to be a part of what he is doing.”
Collins explained that Tolrud was a huge force in making the Owosso Middle School Jazz band a major part of the daily curriculum for Owosso students. The Owosso Middle School band program includes five ensembles, and incorporates 250 members, with the majority of these kids continuing on to participate in the Owosso High School band. It is critical that students have a positive middle school band experience to inspire them further. Tolrud offers that to his students. “He keeps them interconnected with all levels of their program, which makes a huge impact,” stated Collins.
Under Tolrud, the 8th-grade band has consecutively received a superior rating at District Band & Orchestra Festivals for all of his 18 years at OMS. His OMS bands regularly attend both Solo & Ensemble and Band & Orchestra festivals. Tolrud was also selected to conduct the District V Junior High All-Star Band and has been an MSBOA adjudicator for both Solo & Ensemble and Marching Band Festivals for the previous eight years.
In addition to his teaching duties, Tolrud has held MSBOA district positions of Vice President of Workers and Marching Band Chair for District V. He was also the MSBOA State Chair for the Music Education Committee for three years. He has also hosted, or has assisted in hosting, multiple Band & Orchestra, Solo & Ensemble and Marching Band Festivals.
Attributing his success to his “outstanding and hard-working” students and an “extremely supportive administration,” Tolrud also credits retired band directors, Monte Sheedlo, Thomas Newton, and Carl Knipe along with the current team with Schlegel and Sterk. He most certainly also wants to acknowledge his wife, Carol, and two daughters, Abigail and Elizabeth.
It would seem that 2016 has been a solid year for honors for the Tolrud family. His 8th-grade daughter, Elizabeth Tolrud recently qualified to play in the Michigan Middle School All-State Band. Elizabeth is the first flute player from OMS to play at this level; quite an honor for the middle school student.