The Polka Lovers Klub of America (PoLK of A) Texas Chapter I recently presented a $500 scholarship to Emily Barton of Needville and Scott Lyssy of Falls City. Like the Klub’s recipients in the past, Emily and Scott just blew me away with all their accomplishments and great attitude. It was inspiring to visit with them about their future plans and thoughts on their polka music heritage. Emily graduated from Needville High School as valedictorian, was the president of the National Honor Society, played French horn in the band, homecoming queen and band sweetheart, worked as a waitress. Her brother, John Paul, received the scholarship in 2009. He is entering his senior year at Texas A&M, trumpet player and leader of the Fightin’ Aggie Band. He announced at the PoLK of A meeting that he is considering entering the seminary. Emily plans to attend Texas A&M in College Station and major in international studies.
Scott graduated from Falls City High School (Falls City is about an hour south of San Antonio), playing just about every sport there was, president of National Honor Society, FFA, member of the band and working at Lyssy Brothers Tree Farm. Scott plans to attend Texas A&M in Corpus Christi and major in business.
It was great to find out more about these two overachievers!
Did you grow up going to polka dances? What do you remember about them? Emily: I did grow up going to polka dances. I remember them being very hot, especially the Dubina and High Hill Picnics. I also remember my dad teaching me how to polka dance. Scott: I have danced a little polka at weddings.
Do you go to polka dances now? Emily: Yes, I do occasionally go to polka dances. I still go to the Dubina and High Hill Picnics almost every year, as well as a few local church picnics that have polka dancing there. Scott: Just mainly at weddings.
Who are some of your favorite bands? Emily: My favorite band, of course, is the Shiner Hobo Band (Emily’s grandfather Johnny Barton is a member of the band), followed by the Red Ravens and the Dujka Brothers. Scott: Any type of Texas country.
What are some of your favorite polka tunes? Emily: Beer Barrel Polka, The Shiner Song, Fraulein, The Fire Brigade Polka, Blueberry Hill and In Heaven There Is No Beer. Scott: Beer Barrel Polka.
Do you have any polka tunes on your mp3 player? Emily: I have a few of my favorites mentioned above! Scott: No, not yet.
What was the best thing about growing up in a small town? Emily: The best thing about growing up in Needville is having a nice, quiet, safe community around me that fostered healthy growth and education. Scott: The small town atmosphere and having the chance to be very involved in extracurricular activities. I also love living in the country.
What do you hope to do with your degree? Emily: I'm not really sure. Maybe I will be a translator of some sort (she speaks Spanish). I still have to do a lot of research about it. Scott: I chose A&M Corpus Christi because I have heard great things about the campus and its professors and the campus atmosphere as a whole. I have also had three older brothers who have, or are currently, attending college there. I hope to get a job in the business field that I will enjoy and become successful in.
Which instruments do you play? Will you continue playing in college? Emily: I play the French Horn and a little piano. I probably will not play the French Horn anymore, because they cost around $4,000. Hopefully I will be able to practice more on the piano in college. I do really love music and want to increase my skills in it. Scott: I have played the baritone since I was in fifth grade, and throughout high school I was a baritone section leader. If it will work into my schedule I may attempt to continue playing.
How can we get more young people to attend polka dances? Emily: I think most young people don't even know what polka music or polka dancing is, because when I talk to them about it, they always ask me, "What is that?" So in order to get them to attend polka dances, I think we just need to spread the word on what good, clean fun it is! Maybe also advertise for some free food at the dance--kids always go for free food! But once they learn how easy it is to polka, and once they get that polka music in their heart, I don't understand why they wouldn't want to attend! I will definitely Polka On, and I will spread as much polka fever in college as I can! Scott: In our area there really are not many polka dances taking place so I really don't know how to attract teenagers, but if I had to take a guess I would say have door prizes for those who attend the dance and help advertise polka to other young teens.