The annual Grasso festival was one for the books


Posted: Oct 21, 2022 7:30 AM

This year marked the 26th Annual Joseph P. Grasso Festival for Newtown High School’s Marching Band & Guard’s home show on October 15, and it did not disappoint.

In fact, this year brought some special visitors from Tennessee: author and illustrator Brad Montague, his wife and illustrator Kristi Montague, and their children.

As NHS Band Parent Corp chair Dianna Pategas shared ahead of the tour, the band’s fall show is based on The circles all around uswritten by Brad Montague and illustrated by him and Kristi Montague.

“Something very special is happening at Newtown High School,” Pategas wrote in an email ahead of the event.

A description for The circles all around us says: “It’s the story of a circle. When we are first born, our circle is very small, but as we grow and build relationships, our circle keeps expanding to include family, friends, neighbors, community and beyond. . Brad Montague originally created Circles like an Instagram video adorably narrated by her kids, and now this picture book adaptation is the perfect way to start a conversation about how to expand our worlds with kindness and inclusiveness — even if it feels scary or uncomfortable. This book makes an ideal gift for a newborn, first day of school or graduation, or any milestone that celebrates someone’s growing world.

NHS Groups Director Aaron Ovsiew, the full group, group parents and volunteers were all gathered at the NHS Blue & Gold Stadium earlier today when the Montagues arrived.

Before members of the NHS Marching Band & Guard rehearse for the day, Brad Montague spoke to the band.

Brad Montague said there is a whole world and challenges to overcome, but there are also “circles all around us, everywhere we go”.

He described a quote and a concept he reflects on around the importance of everyone sweeping their own front door and yard in support of cleaning up the world.

“There’s a difference you can make and a love you can show here, just start there,” said Brad Montague. “What’s really cool is that the more you take care of the circle around you, the more it expands and grows. Then it finds its way out of this small town in Tennessee into Connecticut, up to you.Then the circles around you only grow and grow.

Brad Montague said it gives him hope that members of the NHS Marching Band & Guard have shared the story and “brought it to life with music… It’s going to grow and grow from there”.

“You fill the world with circles of kindness,” said Brad Montague.

The Montagues also presented special pins to band members and Ovsiew.

Then the Marching Nighthawks took to the field to rehearse the evening’s show.

As is typical for the home show, the NHS Marching Band and Guard performed but did not take part in the evening’s competition. Ten marching bands from the region took part in the competition and the NHS performance closed the evening.

Mason Miller, Tyler Cocchiola, Ben Belmuth, Sarina Christenson, Anna White, Audrey Nichols and Cassie Fossom were also honored at the event.

During their visit, the Montagues both signed a copy of The circles all around us for the NHS Marching Band and Guard. The message reads: “To one of the greatest bands in the world! You create a better world with wider circles!

For more information on the Montagues and their books, see their website at

More information about the NHS Marching Band & Guard, including upcoming competition dates, can be found on their website

Education Editor Eliza Van can be reached at [email protected]

Members of the NHS Marching Band & Guard surround author Brad Montague (pictured second row, fourth from right), with NHS Bands Director Aaron Ovsiew (front row fourth from left) , Drum Major Ben Belmuth (fifth front row from left), and Chris Carley, Deputy Director of NHS Band and Guard (front row, right). —Photo by Jon Miller

Members of the NHS Guard listen intently as Brad Montague shares what inspired him to create The Circles All Around Us. —Photo by Jon Miller

Members of the Guard rotate and throw flags during Saturday’s Grasso House show. —Photo by Jon Miller

NHS Marching Band & Guard graduates pictured from left are Mason Miller, Tyler Cocchiola, Ben Belmuth, Sarina Christenson, Anna White, Audrey Nichols and Cassie Fossom. —Photo by Jon Miller

The NHS Blue & Gold Stadium hosted fans and supporters during the 26th annual Joseph P. Grasso Festival on October 15. —Bee Photo, Van


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