Local bands wrap up competition season in Hershey

The final horn has sounded on the competition season for the Youngsville and Eisenhower marching bands.

Both bands were invited to the Tournament of Bands (TOB) Atlantic Coast Championships (ACC) in Hershey. The ACC brings together the best units in a nine-state area.

Eisenhower competed in Group 1 – 30 musicians or less and no more than 30 auxiliary – Open on Oct. 27.

Youngsville was part of the Group 2 – 31 to 50 musicians and no more than 50 auxiliary – Open championships on Nov. 3.

Eisenhower went into the event ranked 18th. It justified that ranking by placing 18th with a score of 81.65. Only 22 Group 1 bands qualified for the ACC.

The EMHS band includes members in sixth through 12th grades.

“We have qualified for ACC seven times out of the past eight years,” Director Mark Napolitan said. “This is outstanding when you consider we are competing against bands that are senior high – nine through 12 – and many of them have the maximum amount of instruments (30) for the grouping.”

“I had seven seniors this year,” Napolitan said. “They all helped with the new and younger members. Their experience was definitely a plus for us.”

The Marching Eagles closed out an undefeated season with a win at the Chapter 8 Championships and an invitation to ACC. Youngsville, with exactly the group minimum 31 musicians, scored a 90.60 to finish 12th out of 30.

“This was the last Marching Competition for our seniors to march in,” Director Cindy Scheid said. “It was an emotion-filled moment.”

“The band performed amazingly, better than I have ever seen from any of my bands over the past 22 years,” she said. “They had me in tears before they ever played the last note – truly a moment they will carry with them for the rest of their life.”

“With a performance like they had I would have wished for a higher ranking, but it is a tough group to compete in,” Scheid said.

Going to the championships is not a win-or-lose scenario.

“ACCs is a great moment for our kids,” Scheid said. “They get to experience bands from all over the nine states and the opportunity to be a part of something big in a great stadium, in front of a large ‘band’ audience.”

“The ACC competition was outstanding,” Napolitan said. “It is always a positive experience for the students. It is a goal the students set each year.”

“Performing in such a large venue as Hershey Park Stadium is an amazing experience,” he said. “The opportunity to see bands from various states along the Atlantic Coast is an excellent learning experience. Every band has its own style and different ways of designing and performing their shows.”

It was a tumultuous year for the Knights.

“This season was very challenging from the beginning,” Napolitan said. “We had to find a place to practice because of the renovations (at Eisenhower Middle High School).”

“We ended up at Russell Elementary,” he said. “Then we had to deal with a lot of logistical issues once there: where to store equipment, uniforms and other materials needed throughout the season; what to do for practice fields – grass and parking lot – how to get the kids to the school after school; getting into the building outside of school hours.”

The size of the band was another problem. “We had very limited numbers of instruments and choosing music that could be arranged to work for us was challenging,” he said.

“Once we got into the season things began to click,” Napolitan said. “I was able to push the students pretty hard this year and we got positive results.”

“I think we will have a great future for all of the instrumental programs,” he said. “I am very excited about the prospects for the future. Of course I always remain optimistically cautious when it comes to future planning. Too many things can happen between now and then.”