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BEHS band hits high notes

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By Mallory Bilger

MOUNT WASHINGTON " The Bullitt East Marching Band made history during an uncertain time this year.

The band was the smallest on record with 37 participants and had to adjust to being led by a new director, Jonah Sawyers.

Maybe it was that the students felt like underdogs, or perhaps it was the enthusiasm of a new, young director, but the BEHS Marching Chargers made it to the state semi-final competition Nov. 7 for the first time in Bullitt East’s history.

Although the band placed last at the semifinal competition, most of its members and Sawyers agreed that everyone gave their absolute best effort and came together to overcome adversity.

“They put in a lot of hard work,” Sawyers said. “Now we just want to make it a tradition of going back to semifinals.”

Before making it to semifinals, the band had to compete regionally at quarter finals where they came in eighth and received a nod to advance in the competition.

The band began practicing its show during band camp in the summer and continued into the school year.

“We did the routine over and over again. It’s a group thing. You can’t have a substitute. You have to give your 110 percent each time,” Sawyers said of the practices leading up to the competition.

Senior clarinet player Nicole Spurlock has been marching with the Chargers for six years. She said she knew it would be hard transitioning between former director Morris Dean Jasper and Sawyers, but everyone seemed to commit themselves 110 percent.

“I was expecting a lot more change than there was. When we first started out it was real slow and my main goal was to make it to quarter finals,” Spurlock said. “I was just happy,” she said, when she found out the band had made the cut to make it to state semifinals.

The band performed the show “The Wind and the Lion” composed by Roger Cichy. Sawyers said although it was tough putting a show together with such a small band, he never thought the students couldn’t be successful.

Freshman Rachel Sanders has performed with the BEHS band for four years. She plays trumpet and said the encouragement Sawyers gave the band was essential to its success this year.

“He encouraged us every day to do our best,” she said.

Junior Avery Willman plays trombone in the marching band. He said advancing on to semifinals was a surreal experience.

“It was a very big shock,” Willman said.

Sawyers said he doesn’t want his musicians to settle for this year’s success because he knows that in coming years they can do even better.

“We will set the bar higher in the future,” he said. “We just want to make a tradition of going back to the semifinals. If the numbers get larger that can only help.”

Sawyers said he also wanted to make the band a more recognized program much like football or basketball.

“We want to make band important to the community,” he said.

Those goals should be reachable if he gets as much effort out of next year’s Marching Chargers as he did this year’s band.

“They are the hardest working group I’ve ever worked with. They worked really hard and made it through a really tough year,” he said.