High school band takes first place in national championship

By Douglas McCulloch | Nov 11, 2017
Photo by: Douglas McCullooch Band members at a practice session hours before departing for New Jersey.

The Dartmouth High marching band and color guard are national champions after coming in first place in the USBands National Championships on November 11.

Facing off against ten schools in its division, Dartmouth High scored 98.350 points - more than a point higher than the second place school Passaic High School, from New Jersey.

"I thought our kids did a great job dealing with the cold," said Band Director Bill Kingsland, adding that the cold can present a challenge with the band's heavy technical moves that require quick fingers and movements to pull off. During the competition, temperatures dipped into the low 20s.

Dartmouth High also swept all of the performance awards, and from what Kingsland heard from the judges, it was one of Dartmouth High's best performances to date.

The cold was on the minds of many band members at the final Dartmouth practice held early on Saturday morning before the band departed to New Jersey.

“We don’t fold in the cold,” said band member Tyler Gregorie as the band broke for a water break at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Fellow bandmate Mike Cabral agreed, adding that this year the band is feeling especially excited to perform.

“We’re feeling really confident,” he said. “I feel like we’re the best band yet this year.”

Despite suffering an injury that left her unable to perform in the national championship, ninth grader and band member Ryley Thatcher will still be traveling to nationals to coach the middle school color guard, which will also perform.

“I just want to make sure they have a lot of fun,” Thatcher said.

Dartmouth High’s band and color guard performed in the final slot in its division on Saturday night. It  was an advantageous position because it will be the final performance judges will see, Band Director Bill Kingsland explained in a prior Dartmouth Week interview.

“It’s human nature in that it’s the last thing [the judges] will see,” Kingsland had said. “Everyone wants to get as close to last as they can.”

In the leadup to nationals, the band and color guard picked up several prominent first-place wins in regional and New England championship events. That included a 99.1 first-place division finish in the New England Scholastic Band Association's championships in Lawrence - the highest score in recent band history.

The championship closes the band's competitive season, but the band will be busy with holiday events, including a halftime show at the Dartmouth High and Fairhaven High Thanksgiving football game, and a Christmas concert on December 21 at 7 p.m. at the high school.

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