• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Stuff

WCHS Marching Band ends memorable season

Performing at Grand National Championships this month and being named River City Grand Champion in September highlighted the Woodford County High School Marching Band’s season.

Being one of 108 bands to perform at the Bands of America Grand Nationals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Nov. 8 to 10 was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students in the WCHS Marching Band.

“It was just something extra that we’ve never done before, and it was just really meaningful to get to do that,” said WCHS junior Kate Burke.

Not only did WCHS students share a world class space with bands from 23 states, they also received feedback on their Nov. 8 performance from world class judges, said WCHS Marching Band Director Michael Collins.

“There’s no match for a Bands of America Championship event. I’m glad they got to experience it this year,” he said.

Other highlights this season included being a Reserve Grand Champion at South Laurel a few weeks after winning its first Grand Championship in at least 17 years, and placing in the top four at the State Quarterfinals for a second consecutive season, while also earning a Distinguished Rating.

“Everyone’s work ethic has just seemed to be more this year than other years,” said WCHS senior Keri Westerfield. She credited Collins for inspiring students to put in the work to reach their potential.

“We were at a different place this year when we started competitively. We were farther ahead than we usually are at that point in the season,” explained Keri, 17.

From his perspective, Collins said he saw a lot of growth from the beginning of this marching season to its end. His students showed maturity on the field and off, he explained.

Reflecting on the season, WCHS senior Sarah Johnson said she was pleased with the band’s performances and “we got a lot out of the show.”

Besides learning a show through hours of practice, Sarah said students in the marching band learned about themselves and how to express themselves musically.

“It was a good show,” said Sarah, 17. “It was well-written.”

The design of their “Voices of the Sky” show gave the WCHS Marching Band a lot of opportunities to shine during a performance, explained Kate. She said watching bands from across the country perform at Grand Nationals was proof that her school’s show was really different.

What separated this year’s marching band from others was having a strong group of ninth- and eighth-graders in the mix. They were “willing to learn and hard working …,” said Sarah.

Looking forward, Kate sees a lot of potential for next season.

“Seeing everything that we were able to do with this show,” said Kate, “this huge group of younger kids … can go even further.”

“I’m excited to see what they do,” added Sarah.

Reflecting on the long marching season that began with band camp before classes started in August, both Sarah and Kate said they were sorry to see this part of their high school year come to an end.

“It’s kind of sad because it was my last season, but I’m really tired,” said Sarah.

“I’m sad that it’s over just because it’s such a big part of our lives,” added Kate, 16.

She and other students will continue playing their instruments from now until next July so they’re stronger musically next season.

“I actually love this time of year, because it’s an opportunity to really dig in and make better musicians,” Collins explained. He described marching season as a payoff for all the hours of the hard work.

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