A publication by the students, about the students, and for the students of White Station High School

White Station Scroll

A publication by the students, about the students, and for the students of White Station High School

White Station Scroll

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A harmonious triumph at the Arlington Open Invitational

The+White+Station+High+School+marching+band%E2%80%99s+drum+majors%2C+color+guard+captains%2C+drumline+captain+and+co-captain+and+president+present+the+three+trophies+they+won+at+the+Arlington+Open+Invitational.+The+band+won+first+place+in+all+three+categories+within+their+division.
KELLY CHIU//USED WITH PERMISSION
The White Station High School marching band’s drum majors, color guard captains, drumline captain and co-captain and president present the three trophies they won at the Arlington Open Invitational. The band won first place in all three categories within their division.

Marching across the field to take their places, the musicians’ hearts race. All is silent until the first note of “Soul Vaccination” by Tower of Power envelops the stadium.

On Sept. 23, the marching band traveled to Arlington High School to participate in the Arlington Open Invitational (AOI). This regional event hosted 10 bands who competed against one another. The 2023 AOI is only the second marching band competition that the White Station High School (WSHS) band has participated in under the leadership of Brian Sims, the current band director. The first time WSHS played in one was in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“There [wasn’t] anything that is band-related that we [hadn’t] done aside from the marching band competition,” Sims said. “That’s the only thing we [hadn’t] done, but as far as the marching band competition, getting people interested was really hard.”

For the regular season, band members attend after school practices two, three or four days a week, depending on the instrument they play, as well as Friday football games. Mondays and Wednesdays are reserved for full band practices, lasting from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. In the time leading up to the competition, a large majority of this time was spent practicing the field show. This year’s field show consisted of three songs by Tower of Power. The first song was “Soul Vaccination” followed by “You’re Still a Young Man” and concluded with “Down to the Nightclub/ What is Hip?”

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“I was really excited when I found out that we were doing competitions because I know everyone has worked hard,” Holly Cole (12) said.“I think they deserve a place where they get to show how much they’ve done.” 

White Station High School’s colorguard is led by Andrea Vancil. The guard often practiced with the band in preparation for the competition.
(MAMI WEXLER//USED WITH PERMISSION)

There were multiple judges present at the competition, as well as an audience of students, parents and other competitors in the stands. The judge’s job was to focus on different pieces of the field show and score each band based on different criteria. 

“Playing [at the competition] felt like a lot more pressure … [now that] we’re playing for people who come to see us.” Owen Kearney (11) said. “Now we’re setting an example. Playing in that sort of environment, it was daunting, but I’m really proud of our performance and I think that we did well.” 

Many marching bands purchase new props and uniforms yearly. However, WSHS’s band does not use any props other than those that belong to colorguard due to a lack of funding. Instead, the band has worn the same uniforms for at least 10 years. The band held multiple fundraisers, and as a result, were able to purchase new uniforms this year. 

“A lot of competitions… they’re looking for a specific style…[and] ‘very traditional-style marching’ was the comment that came from most of the judges,” Sims said, “but [that the style is] effective and makes sense the way you’re doing it and what you’re doing.”

WSHS’s band falls into the AAAA division, for those with a range of 70-120 people. The band’s field show consisted of 74 people. Despite being the only band in the AAAA division, they took home three trophies. 

“Confidence. I think [the competition] gave a measure of confidence to people in band,” Sims said. “I also think it gave them a chance to see that there’s more out there than just football games.”

Some members of the White Station High School drumline participated in the competition. The percussion instruments used included snares, quints, bass drums, cymbals, wind chimes, a suspended cymbal, xylophone, marimba, cowbell, and tambourine. (MAMI WEXLER//USED WITH PERMISSION)

White Station’s field show features a soloist, as most field shows do. This year’s soloist, Owen Kearney, is a trumpet player in the jazz band. He has been playing trumpet for over five years, but this is his first year in the marching band spotlight. 

“Being the soloist… it’s a showcase of you,” Kearney said. “Showing your skills and everything that goes into what you do. It’s a display of my work.” 

Cole, Xander Martin (11) and Angel Salazar (12) are the band’s drum majors and are responsible for conducting and leading the band. Members of the band often consult them for help with their instruments, the music they play and even more personal issues. 

“[I want to] keep the spirit of it too, [because] I really love band.” Martin said. “So many friends that I’ve met, so many relationships that I’ve built upon… I wanted to keep that going.” 

Though the White Station marching band was the only competitor in its division, the band still gained experience during the competition performance. Marching band not only allows students to expand their knowledge of their instruments and music theory, but gives them a sense of community. The time spent together and the necessity to play as one sound forms bonds over time that carry on throughout high school. 

“[An important thing is] finding your people that share the same things you do… [people] that you really connect with that [will] help keep you in the mindset [that] this is fun, this is awesome.” Cole said.

The band is likely to participate in more competitions in the future. Participating in these competitions motivates students to reveal a new side of marching band that goes past performing at football games.

“Where you set yourself is what you’re gonna do.” Cole said. “If you say you can’t, you’re right. If you say you can, you’re right. Whatever you believe is true.

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