It’s been a big month of news for the Marion High School band program, with major achievements by band members and some exciting opportunities on the horizon.
The latest news came Saturday during the annual Region IV All-Region Band auditions. 35 band members earned a position in the band, easily surpassing last year’s total of 24. This total gave Marion the second-highest total in Region IV, behind only Class 7A Cabot. Other schools participating in the auditions were West Memphis, Riverview, Searcy, Beebe, Lonoke, Wynne, Bald Knob, and Forrest City.
Combined with the 36 Marion Junior High students who qualified for the junior high all-region band in December, this gives Marion 71 All-Region members for the 2021-22 school year. This is the highest amount since the nine Arkansas Band Regions were realigned several years ago.
According to MHS Director of Bands Monty Hill, students were originally set to audition in person at Searcy High School earlier this month. But because of the state-wide surge in Covid-19 cases, auditions were moved to a virtual format. Despite the last-minute change, Marion students and directors didn’t miss a beat. Utilizing an advanced online audition platform called “Opus,” band members completed and submitted their recorded auditions, which were adjudicated on Saturday by band directors across the state.
“Our students take their individual preparation very seriously,” said Hill. “They understand that potential band scholarships are on the line and that college band directors take notice of All-region musicians.”
Next up for band members is preparation for All-State Band auditions and the annual Concert Assessment in February.
“The harder we work as individuals, it only makes the entire band better,” Hill said.
All-Region Band members are as follows (* denotes All-State qualifiers):
- Elena Caballero, 19th chair clarinet
- Madison Odom, 26th chair clarinet
- Miller Owen*, 6th chair trumpet
- Trevor Johnston, 13th chair trumpet
- Teneal Adams*, 4th chair tuba
- Taylor Coleman*, 7th chair percussion
- Jolie Roberts, 4th chair flute
- Amaris Jenkins, 6th chair flute
- Amelia Riley, 9th chair flute
- Cassidy Clark, 11th chair flute
- Peyton Johnson, 13th chair flute
- Gabrielle Livingston, 8th chair clarinet
- Porsha Wheeler, 13th chair clarinet
- Alexandria Jenkins, 14th chair clarinet
- Janaria Banister, 15th chair clarinet
- Vivi Arreola, 20th chair clarinet
- Shaklya Lewis, 21st chair clarinet
- Lillian Thomas, 22nd chair clarinet
- Jordan Johnson, 23rd chair clarinet
- Madison Moody, 26th chair clarinet
- Zepheniah Robinson, 1st chair bass clarinet
- Kelsey Gollat, 4th chair bass clarinet
- Kaden Littlejohn, 6th chair alto saxophone
- Ella White, 7th chair French horn
- Thomas Taylor, 8th chair French horn
- Myles Jones, 4th chair euphonium
- Kathryn Hood, 3rd chair tuba
- Ashlon Walker, 2nd chair percussion
- Johnathan Nelson, 4th chair percussion
- Eddie Wilson, 11th chair percussion
- Connor Simmons, 3rd alternate trumpet
- Will Zheng, 1st alternate trombone
- Ethan Schmidt, 1st alternate percussion
- Kendrick Blair, 3rd alternate percussion
- Nikolas Anthony, 4th alternate percussion
BAND HEADED TO WASHINGTON IN 2023
In another impressive development, the band learned last month it had been invited to participate in the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C., in 2023.
Marion was selected through a nomination by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The parade is organized by National Celebrations International, which also produces the National Memorial Day Parade, presidential inauguration parades, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Marion will join only a handful of other Marion schools that have been selected for this honor in the past, including Cabot, Springdale, and Lake Hamilton.
“Our students are in for an experience of a lifetime,” said Hill. “We will have the chance to tour all the major sights in Washington, D.C., and also participate in our very own wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.”
The trip will conclude with a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra in front of the U.S. Capitol on the evening of July 4. A major fundraising campaign will begin in August to ensure each band member has the chance to go on this trip. More information about ways community members can help students take part in this opportunity will be released in the coming months.
TRAVELING IN STYLE
Very soon, the Marion Patriot Pride Marching Band will be traveling in style with a custom semi-trailer that will be used to transport all of the equipment and band uniforms.
Currently, when the band travels to competitions and football games, Marion uses three separate trailers with trucks. The new semi will allow everything to be in one location and have several other advantages.
Clubhouse Inc. from Edmond, Okla., is the only company in the United States that is building custom semi-trailers just for marching bands. Marion’s trailer will have solar panels on the roof to operate custom LED lights and electrical panels. It will also have a director’s perch that is similar to an RV “bump-out” that will allow directors to give clear instructions and even warm up the band in parking lot environments.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the semi will be a power ramp located in the back. Normal trailers of this nature have portal ramps that have to be set up and torn down. While many of the top band programs in the state are now utilizing specialty trailers, Marion will have the only band trailer in Arkansas with this particular design.
“Our students are so excited about this trailer,” said Hill. “The support of the Marion Superintendent Dr. Glen Fenter and the Marion School Board has made this possible. Our students will be set for success before we ever step on the field for a performance.”