Rotolo 7th-grade student invited to perform in Europe next summer

Trumpet player raising money for trip

BATAVIA – Rotolo Middle School seventh-grade student Pono Casey has a chance to take his music to a bigger audience next year.

Casey, who plays trumpet in Rotolo's seventh-grade band, has been invited to travel to Europe next summer to go on a symphony concert tour with the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.

“I hope to learn some new techniques and a couple of languages, possibly,” Pono said.

The trip will cost more than $6,000. To help in defraying the cost, his family has turned to, an online fundraising website.

Pono began to play the trumpet in fifth grade as part of a school program. This past summer, he was awarded a competitive scholarship to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. He recently found out that he was awarded a seat in the Blue Lake International Symphonic Band called Southern Winds.

“I love the sound of the trumpet,” Pono said. “It has a real beautiful sound.”

The person who will be directing the Southern Winds band is John Heath, who recently retired. He was the director of the Batavia High School Band for 22 years.

Rotolo Middle School band teacher Rob Buckley said Pono is deserving of the opportunity.

“Pono is a terrific musician,” Buckley wrote in an email. “He has always been a very strong musician, but he has made incredible progress at RMS. He has participated in everything our program has offered students his age.”

Buckley wrote that Pono leads by example.

“He is a student that is always on task and is always ready to play his parts,” Buckley wrote. “We look to him to be a leader, and he does a great job of that. He takes suggestions and critique well. He’ll practice on the parts that we ask him to improve, and the music is much improved.”

Besides being involved in music, Pono also is a member of Fox Valley Robotics. He also is on his school’s cross country team, and he is a Boy Scout in Troop 6.

“He’s very good at time management,” said his father, Brendan Casey. He and his wife, Melissa Casey, said they are proud of what Pono has achieved.

Pono said he doesn’t know yet whether he will pursue music as a profession. But he said he likes the way it makes him feel.

“It makes me feel lighter and happier,” he said.

Know more

To help Rotolo Middle School seventh-grade student Pono Casey raise money for a trip to Europe, visit To contact Rotolo Middle School, call 630-937-8700.