Sound the horns: LHS band to host com­pe­ti­tion

Event is part re­cruit­ment and part fundraiser

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI jatkiel­ski@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Jac­quiEn­tNews

It’s been more than two decades since all three St. Mary’s pub­lic high schools have each hosted a march­ing band com­pe­ti­tion.

Leonard­town High School will be host­ing its first march­ing band com­pe­ti­tion in 21 years, The Bat­tle at Bre­ton, on Satur­day, Oct. 7, start­ing at 4 p.m. The event is part fundraiser and part re­cruit­ment, band rep­re­sen­ta­tives said. Lo­cal bands such as Great Mills and Chop­ti­con, as well as oth­ers from Calvert County and around Mary­land, will be at­tend­ing.

Band direc­tor Hunter Martin said he wasn’t sure why the high school hasn’t hosted a com­pe­ti­tion in 21 years, but “sus­pects the amount of turnover” in re­cent years might be one rea­son.

“We’ve been plan­ning for this since the end of 2016,” he said. “There was a lot of leg­work in­volved, but it was worth it.” Leonard­town’s march­ing band cur­rently has 45 mem­bers.

“The event will be ad­ju­di­cated … by judges from U.S. Bands,” an or­ga­ni­za­tion with ties to the Drum Corps In­ter­na­tional, a pro­fes­sional march­ing band or­ga­ni­za­tion where groups com­pete across the coun­try, Martin said, adding that many of his stu­dents en­joy DCI. Judges will look to cri­tique how mu­si­cal the band is, how well the band marches and other fac­tors.

Martin said host­ing the event is “for the bet­ter­ment of the kids … it’s mak­ing them happy and ex­cited about march­ing band.”

He said his stu­dents are ex­cited to “fi­nally get the rest of the drill on the field and host the com­pe­ti­tion so ev­ery­one can see the show in its en­tirety.”

The band has al­ready per­formed in com­pe­ti­tions at Great Mills and Chop­ti­con high schools, as well as in Anne Arun­del County.

Martin said the march­ing show’s mu­sic and drill was pro­duced by a third-party com­pany, but he could cus­tom­ize the or­der.

Todd Bur­roughs, the pub­lic schools’ su­per­in­ten­dent for fine arts, said last week it’s ex­cit­ing that all three St. Mary’s high schools will be host­ing such events this year.

“It speaks to the level of en­thu­si­asm the county has about march­ing band,” he said.

The event is a fundraiser and op­por­tu­nity to re­cruit for the band, booster pres­i­dent Robin Paul said, adding that “it’s a good chance to wit­ness some­thing unique.”

“Par­ents are ex­cited about it be­cause they don’t have to travel,” Mar- tin said. “It’s less in­va­sive on week­end plan­ning.”

“The com­mu­nity takes pride in what we do,” he said. “I think the county as a whole is ex­cited in tak­ing part of the ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Paul said his daugh­ter and step­son are in­volved with the march­ing band. He said his chil­dren see march­ing band as a time “to see their friends, per­form and learn more about mu­sic and drill.”

Leonard­town High School ju­nior Tay­lor Wolt said this year’s half­time show is called “The Mas­ter Pup­peteer,” and ex­plores the story of pup­pets that rebel against their pup­peteer. She plays trum­pet in the march­ing band.

Stu­dents should join march­ing band be­cause “it’s a good com­mu­nity to be in,” she said.

March­ing band is “a great place to meet new peo­ple as a fresh­man” Wolt said, adding that most of her friends are in band. “We sup­port each other” on and off the field.

The march­ing band scored well dur­ing its first two com­pe­ti­tions, tak­ing the top place in their cat­e­gory, Wolt said, adding that Martin is more con­cerned with mak­ing sure stu­dents are grow­ing as per­form­ers.

“‘Keep im­prov­ing’ is what Mr. Martin says,” Wolt said.

Leonard­town ju­nior Kirby Heckathron said he loves this year’s half­time show and it’s “su­per fun.” He plays a con­tra, or a march­ing tuba.

He said march­ing band “is a great ex­pe­ri­ence and brings you to­gether. It helps you get a bit more phys­i­cally fit and you learn more about your­self” as stu­dents per­form their mu­sic and drill rou­tine.

Martin said more than 60 mid­dle school band stu­dents are sched­uled to play the na­tional an­them with the high school­ers prior to the start of the event.

“Par­ents are hap­pier with hav­ing a lo­cal com­pe­ti­tion be­cause it’s less time-con­sum­ing and less ex­pen­sive to go to,” Robin said.

The band boost­ers pres­i­dent said he is “grate­ful for the lo­cal com­mu­nity sup­port to fund” band ac­tiv­i­ties, and that “the school sys­tem doesn’t chip in, band boost­ers have to foot” most of the bill for march­ing band equip­ment, com­pe­ti­tion fees and other fi­nanc­ing.

The event “lends it­self to an op­por­tu­nity to meet other stu­dents and be around oth­ers who are ex­cited about march­ing band,” Martin said, adding the event may en­cour­age shy stu­dents to talk to other band mem­bers at the event.

STAFF PHOTO BY JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI

Leonard­town High School ju­nior Kirby Heckathorn stands on Sept. 28 in a re­hearsal cir­cle with his march­ing band mem­bers while Band Direc­tor Hunter Martin di­rects them through the high school’s fight song.

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