On Saturday, the Plymouth High School Marching Band headed south to Pike High School in Indianapolis to compete in the Indiana State School Music Association’s Semi-State competition. After the band had recently advanced out of the ISSMA Regional contest, the staff and students had high expectations for this event. At the Semi-State tournament, the top bands from the North and South come together to compete for ten spots at the annual state finals event held in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
“The day could not have gone better for us. The kids were in their element after a long week of extra practices and highly successful rehearsals. We had our best musical warm-up of the season just prior to our performance and the kids were so excited at that point that the energy level and excitement was obvious,” said Plymouth band director Bryan Ames. “I think the students knew they had it in them, and after such an amazing warm up just prior to taking the field to compete, they were mentally prepared to bring their best performance.”
High winds were a huge factor in all of the competing band’s performances. Nearly every school had issues with props and equipment blowing over in the wind and these conditions make it very difficult for the color guard members to perform. “Our color guard showed tremendous training and skill in the wind. Our students fought through the wind and completed a nearly flawless visual performance and it showed in our visual scores.”
The “Pride of Plymouth’s” show this season is titled “451” and is based on themes from the classic novel “Fahrenheit 451.” The novel is about a futuristic American society in which knowledge and access to books is banned. The band features numerous props on the field that are digitally printed photos of fire to enhance themes presented in the novel. The band is led this season by senior drum major Jessica Beagle.
This year, the band is competing in Open Class B competition. Open Class competition is the hardest level of state competition and bands are divided into four classes (A, B, C, and D) based on school size. Class B is the second largest class and Plymouth High School is one of the smallest schools in Class B. In 2010, the Pride made school history by becoming the first Plymouth band to ever qualify for the state finals. The band placed 5th in the state in Class C competition. The next year, Plymouth High School fell into the size guidelines for Class B and the band was moved up to the next class. This year, the band qualified for state finals for the second time ever and the first time in Class B competition. “This was a much harder challenge for us as we are one of the smallest schools and bands in our class. We compete every weekend against bands that are double or triple our size. Our students have to simply work a lot harder to get the same level of effect as the bigger bands do,” said Ames. “We always look at ourselves as the character David going against Goliath on a weekly basis. But, as we know the how the story ends, even the little guy can take down a monster if he puts his mind to it.”
“After a season of extremely hot summer camps on the steaming asphalt parking to, the rainy and cold evenings outside, the freezing cold fall nights, and the long days of competition, it all comes down to that one final performance where you get one chance and one chance only to prove what you can do. The Plymouth band members went out there and gave it all they had and they did it. They made history and made their season-long dreams of going back to state finals come true.”
Immediately following the award ceremony, the Plymouth Band members gathered in the parking lot near their semi trailers and buses waiting for the staff to arrive from the field. When the staff members arrived in the parking lot, students rushed across the lot forming a mass of cheering students and parents celebrating a season of success and triumph. “It is an amazing feeling as a teacher when you see something this special. When you see kids crying tears of joy, parents hugging their children, and everyone celebrating a job well done, you know all the hard work and all the long days and nights of preparation and practice were worth every moment of it.”
Upon arriving home to Plymouth, the marching band was greeted by a community of cars led by local police officers to parade the band buses and trailers through town. “Seeing all the community members standing downtown waving flags and cheering for the kids was amazing. It is such a great thing to teach in a smaller town where everyone rallies around student success. It was just unbelievable how many people came downtown to cheer for the kids or follow in cars in the parade to the high school.”
10:00 AM – Greenwood
10:13 AM – Plymouth
10:26 AM – DeKalb
10:39 AM – Floyd Central
10:52 AM – Northview
11:05 AM – New Castle
11:18 AM – Plainfield
11:31 AM – Jasper
11:44 AM – Concord
11:57 AM – Munster
Tickets will be on sale in the Plymouth High School main office by Wednesday. State Finals tickets are $20. The Pride of Plymouth also has several themed t-shirts for fans to wear to state for $18 and PHS white and red car flags for $5. Shirts and car flags can be purchased from the band office.
The band is planning a community night performance on Wednesday evening at 8:30 p.m. If you can’t make it to state finals, come out and show your support for the band on Wednesday. Everyone is encouraged to bring your flashlights as tradition calls for the final rehearsal of the season to include a flashlight tunnel that the band will march through from the stadium back to the school.
More state finals information will also be available on the band’s website at www.prideofplymouth.com.