March’s FAB featured artist has caught the ‘jazz bug’ | FAB

FAB featured artist Marissa Wendt, 18, shares the late Pete Seeger’s philsophy: the arts have a dual purpose, to lift us out of our troubles and then to help us solve them.

FAB featured artist Marissa Wendt, 18, shares the late Pete Seeger’s philsophy: the arts have a dual purpose, to lift us out of our troubles and then to help us solve them.

For this Fine Arts Boosters Spotlight, drama teacher Alison Roberts’ choice is Marissa.

Marissa is an actor in the KHS Drama Club and plays the trombone in the Kingston High School Jazz Band. The band practices at 7 a.m. before school and Drama Club is rehearsing the upcoming musical “Guys and Dolls,” after school. This young woman has a long day!

Marissa, a senior, said, “I was raised in a barn right here in Kingston.” She comes from a family committed to music. Her father sang in an award-winning high school choir and is president of the KHS Band Boosters. Her mother played the French horn in high school and her brother, Geoff, plays trombone for Olympic College Jazz Ensemble.

Marissa  explained, “In the Jazz Band, I usually get to play the second trombone part. It’s the one that typically carries the solos, where I’m free to express my soul.”

Through drama, “[I’m] able to express myself through playing someone else’s character and this helps me solve problems  with where I am going in my own life,” she said.

She has been in three musicals at KHS and will play Mimi and a gambler in “Guys and Dolls,” March 28 – 30.  “It’s set in the 1920s with Prohibition, gambling, dancing and singing. Mimi has fun with life as a ‘flapper’ and we get to learn about this very different time through the lyrics.”

Marissa started her school music career on the flute in middle school. During her freshman year, she taught herself how to play the trombone. Adam Campagna was a great help when transitioning from the flute to a brass instrument.

Last year, Marissa caught the “jazz bug” from Mr. Whitson, who helped her with private lessons and encouraged her to listen to lessons by a professional soloist.

This year, the arts at KHS have taken it hard.

“It’s been tough,” Marissa said. “We have always had a part-time teacher at KHS, but we’ve at least had our own. This year we are having to share with the middle school next door. It’s lot of work for a music teacher to run one program; it’s insane that our teacher has to run two. On top of that we were expected to pay for zero period Jazz Band this year — fortunately there were enough students willing and we got to keep this class. I graduate in June and I know there will be no improvement in my time. How about in my freshman cousin’s time?”

The NKSD School Board is considering a new arts policy. It is on their website, They continually ask for community  input.  We are clear we value the arts and are concerned about the priorities of the budget, so our voices must be heard.

An exceptional jazz and theater program at Eastern Washington University  beckons Marissa. She plans to major in biology and become a medical technologist.

“I really like biology.  Where things in nature do what they do and we get to watch it all happen, I find it fascinating.”

Marissa’s final comment again ties her to Pete Seeger.

“Last year, we got to work weekly with an 83-year-old trombone player. He was a constant reminder that music is a lifetime skill. I hope I love to play and am willing to share my talent when I’m that old. Music, acting, singing and dancing are all things we can do for our entire lives …”

— Contact columnist Marilyn Bode at