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FHSU tuning up for band camp

7/14/2013

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Ivalah Allen needed a new assistant. And she knew right where to look.

Michelle Postier, Newton, is gone this year after more than 25 years experience in a variety of areas at High Plains Music Camp at Fort Hays State University, including assistant to the director last year.

Allen, FHSU professor of vocal music in just her second year as director of the camp, thought of asking Makenzi Johnson, who played in the faculty band at the camp the past few years, to replace Postier.

"I had talked to several of the faculty members at Fort Hays," Allen said of looking for suggestions for a new assistant, "and they all highly recommended her."

Johnson is co-band director at Dighton High School with her husband, Chris, and both are Fort Hays graduates.

"I knew the position was open, and I like that kind of thing," Johnson said of the camp's position of assistant director. "I'm very detail oriented and like to organize things."

Then Johnson will be in heaven this week.

Approximately 300 high school students from throughout the state, and from a few other states as well, are expected to hit the Fort Hays campus today for the week-long event, in its 66th year.

A lot of the organizing and detail work has taken place the past several weeks, but there also will be plenty of new challenges this week, too.

But it's something she is looking forward to.

"It's really to come back to my alma mater and do this," said Johnson, whose husband also is involved with the camp as an instructor.

Johnson traveled to Hays on Mondays during the month of June to work on the camp, then spent entire weeks in Hays this month, including some weekends.

Johnson decided to take on the new venture despite being involved in a big project back home. The Johnsons are busy trying to raise money for a trip for their Dighton band, which hopes to march in the 2014 National Independence Day Parade in Washington.

Johnson was busy Friday trying to get things done in camp headquarters in Malloy Hall before leaving for Dighton, where she and her husband and the Dighton band were to serve as grand marshals in the Lane County Fair parade.

"Then, Saturday we have a wedding," Johnson said. "Then, it's back to Hays."

Even with the hectic schedule, Johnson said she already knows she wants to come back in the same capacity next year.

"As long as they'll have me," she said.

The camp will feature concerts on campus at 7 p.m. each day during the week.

Those are:

* Monday and Tuesday -- Faculty staff recital.

* Wednesday -- Campers' honor recital, plus campers' talent show.

* Thursday -- Faculty ensemble concert.

* Friday -- Jazz concert, alternative strings concert, camp dance.