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Marching bands find success and growth

Midwest City High School’s Bliss Norbury and Ethan Rapson perform at the OSSAA West Regional competition Oct. 31 at Yukon High School. Photo by Stacey Boyer

By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon

Mid-Del high school marching bands recently wrapped up a busy season.

All three high schools performed in numerous competitions, halftime shows and parades. They also added a new joint performance this year at Carl Albert High School.

“It was a unifying and inspiring event that showcased the collective talents of all three high schools, fostering a sense of camaraderie and pride among our students,” said Sean Johnson, Del City band director.

Marty Marks, Midwest City band director, said the event allowed students to support each other’s success and find inspiration in their progress.

“The Mid-Del combined event made all of these things happen, encouraging our community to do the same,” Marks said. “It was a high-quality learning experience as well, because our Fine Arts Coordinator, Diana Williams, hired subject matter experts to come in and offer critiques. At the end of the day, the mass band performance of all three high school bands was a mountain top experience for everyone present.”

Travis Miller, who is in his first year as director at Carl Albert, said they enjoyed hosting the event.

“Our students had a wonderful experience and loved sharing the field with the other two high schools,” he said. “We cannot wait for next year’s showcase at Midwest City.”

Miller said he’s been pleased with the band’s steady improvement this year. The students have put in many hours of practice both early and late in the day.

“The students are excellent. They performed their hearts out this year in marching band and we are beyond excited to see how they grow,” Miller said. “These students progress every day in a way that shocked me, especially with the massive staff changes that we had. They are determined and the best kids I could ever ask for.”

The highlight of the year was a fifth-place finish at both the Yukon Invitational and OBA State Championships. Carl Albert also placed ninth at the Mustang Invitational and earned straight superior ratings at OSSAA last week.

“Our students really did a fantastic job this past Tuesday (at the OSSA regional) especially given the weather situations that forced us to replan our entire week of rehearsals before,” Miller said. “The cold weather was a force on Tuesday, but our kids braved through it and really did a fantastic job.”

The drum majors are Tenzie Clay and Joseph Robinson.

Johnson was also thrilled with the Del City students’ commitment and unity. The band practiced early in the mornings, evenings, and occasional weekends to fine tune their routine.

“Throughout the marching season, our students truly blossomed,” he said.

Johnson said they have seen remarkable growth in their technical skills while also improving their musicality and instrument proficiency. Their teamwork and unity in executing drill formations was a testament to their collective growth.

“This season we saw their confidence soar, as they embraced feedback and adjustments, resulting in improved competition results,” he said. “Their performances became more polished and emotionally resonant, marking a significant milestone in their journey of growth.”

Johnson said the highlight of the season was an outstanding performance at the Holdenville Blue and Gold Marching Classic, where they achieved their highest scores and rankings of the season. Del City closed out the season last week with a three rating at the OSSAA competition at Yukon High School.

“Our students performed well at the OSSAA competition in Yukon, especially considering the challenges they faced with the weather during the last couple of weeks of the marching season,” Johnson said. “Despite those hurdles, they delivered a commendable performance and demonstrated their resilience and dedication.”

Senior Marisa Martin and juniors Kaylena Hood and Niaja Dunn were drum majors for Del City.
Marks was also impressed with the band’s progress and the support they received from the booster club and school administration.

“This season reflects dramatic progress, just as we have seen throughout the recovery from the impact of the Pandemic,” Marks said. “The Bomber Band students have greatly improved in many ways: musical skill, level of engagement during rehearsal, improved on-time attendance, and dramatic academic growth in their other school subjects. It has been an inspiration to see.”

The theme for this year’s route was, “Dreams and Visions,” which included dreams, nightmares, and hope for the future, Marks said.

Marks said some of the best moments this school year happened during rehearsals and while performing at football games. The band has also made strides in competitions. Midwest City was named “best marching band” at the Fiesta of the Americas Parade, took first in the Elgin Marching Contest, and earned their highest rating in recent history at the OSSAA State Marching Contest.

Midwest City’s drum majors are Stori Fields and Scythe Cardenas.

“Both are exceptional, compassionate and motivated student leaders,” Marks said.

Del City’s Dalyce Upshaw and Gabriel Bell perform at the OSSAA West Regional Oct. 31 at Yukon High School. Photo by Stacey Boyer

Carl Albert’s Mary Kaulaity performs during the OSSAA West Regional marching competition. Photo by Jeff Harrison

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