by ERIN CLARK
WESTFIELD, Ind. (Oct. 27, 2018) - On Oct. 6, marching band members stood in the stands of Whiteland Community High School tensely awaiting their results during the Scholastic Class Preliminaries marching competition. If the band scored well, students would move onto Scholastic Class Finals. The drum majors walked onto the field, and the announcer began to speak, finally saying: “Second place: the Westfield High School Shamrock Pride.”
“The three words I was thinking were ‘Oh my gosh,’” drum major Erin Hebert (11) said. “I think I was just kinda in shock, because I didn’t expect it, and when I realized what we had done, Dave and Mr. Sands can attest to the fact that I started crying while down on the track after. You can’t show any real emotion on the track while receiving awards, so when I was down there, I also didn’t understand what was happening. But, as soon as I did and the announcer dismissed the drum majors, I started crying because I realized that we had made it to Finals.”
One of the biggest reasons students felt the band did better this season compared to past ones was the switch from Open Class, with bands up to two to three times larger than the Shamrock Pride, to Scholastic Class, with bands around the same size or smaller.
“There was a huge difference in the amount of work we put in last year in Open Class,” mellophone player Jacob Poynts (10) said. “Upperclassmen knew that we weren’t going to win competitions, so I think they just used the time to mess around. But, now that we moved into Scholastic, people find out ‘Hey, we actually have a chance at winning this,’ so they put forth the effort and excelled. We got to the last movement at band camp, when we’d never been able to do that. I was also extremely happy at Prelims when I found out we were moving on, it was something that we probably wouldn’t have been able to do in Open Class.”
This season’s show, Travelogue, highlighted music from “Free Bird”, “American in Paris”, “Africa” and “New York, New York”. The combination of more well-known tunes made performing even more enjoyable for students.
“I really liked Travelogue,” clarinet player Ava Hartman (12) said. “Sands and Dave kept calling it a crowd-pleasing show, but that was one of the most fun shows I’ve done, and, as opposed to our other shows in the past where we’re marching all over the field and trying to catch our breath and running around sun tarps and everything, this was fun and you could watch the audience reactions and see how they were enjoying it.”
However, after Prelims, not everything went according to plan. Scholastic Class A Finals, initially on Oct. 20 at Lawrence Central High School, were rescheduled to Oct. 27 at Mount Vernon High School due to wind and power outages.
“The original finals day was very very windy and kinda chilly,” Hebert said. “At the contest there was a kid from another band who was loaded onto a stretcher with a neck brace and driven by ambulance to the hospital because a prop had fallen over on him. The power was also out at the location we were at, and we had an hour and a half delay, so we were just kinda waiting. It turned out that we didn’t compete, which I was quite frustrated with because we had an excellent practice that day.”
Despite frustrations, students were able to use the extra time to prepare. By the time Finals rolled around a week later, marching band members were ready to have fun with their last show.
“Our last performance, I was just on the field enjoying it, in front of a judge, just playing all out,” Poynts said. “I enjoyed every last moment.”
After performing, Seniors had to stay in uniform so they could go out onto the field to hear the final placements.
“We all went onto the field, and I was actually kinda nervous,” Hartman said. “I was like ‘Oh my gosh, everybody’s watching us, what are we doing,’ but we all had a good group. I was just nervous the whole time, because I really wanted to do well at Finals, and I am totally okay with fourth place, considering we even made it to Finals, I’m happy. It was fun to go out with all the Seniors on the field and have the Shamrock Pride behind us, cheering us on.”
While fourth place was not ideal for some, most students were still content with being in the top five out of fourteen bands.
“After we got back to the buses after performing, my stomach hit the floor when I heard Mr. Sands say the dreaded words: ‘It was a good performance, but it wasn’t great,’” Hebert said. “Deep down in my gut, I knew that, whether or not I wanted to admit it, we hadn’t won. But, I was still really excited once I learned we had placed fourth because, as a drum major, you gotta build morale. So, while it was disappointing, I was still excited that we placed because that’s the best that we’ve done in what feels like forever, so I guess it showed us that we can do things if we really put our minds to it.”