The Atholton High School Marching Band is back for the 2022-2023 school year and is kicking it off with a spooky start! Atholton’s Marching Band has started this year with the show Spellbound.
Spellbound isn’t new to the Marching Band. Atholtons Marching Band leader Mr. Posner commented that, “The plan for it was for it to be pre-COVID and a little more experienced band. It was designed to go to a national competition which would have been The Bands of America Regionals, but we’re not doing that this year.” In response to the change in size of the band, he says that it is,“not a bad thing, it’s just different. In fact, the students are doing really really well with this show! The staff are just really blown away with how hard they’re working, and the enthusiasm behind this group is infectious. It’s that enthusiasm and hard work that is really bringing this show to life.”
This year’s show opens with a clarinet solo performed by Mollie Thomas in the piece “Come Little Children” from Disney’s Hocus Pocus. Posner stated that the show then “goes into a mashup of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, which many people will recognize from Fantasia, and a mashup of that with “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. The show finishes with another song from The Nightmare Before Christmas called “What’s This?’” Posner explained that the show for this year isn’t meant to be centered around a specific movie, but rather a creepy concept in which Color Guard are witches, and they are stealing energy from the rest of the band.
Alongside Mr. Posner directing, Drum Majors Anna Beer and Erin McKenna also help out with leading the show. According to Anna Beer, their job as Drum Majors is to “conduct, make sure that everyones in time, and make sure you yourself are on time with everyone else. It’s not a one way street, per-se.” They also help organize activities, help set up team building exercises, and make sure people are where they should be during rehearsals. Erin McKenna said their personal favorite song to perform this year is “Part one (out of the three parts they perform), particularly at the end there’s a big snare solo and it’s really fun to conduct with them because that’s usually who I’m following throughout the whole show. So it’s fun to just watch them do their thing.”
Within this hierarchy of leadership there are also Squad Leaders. Squad leaders have the same responsibilities as Drum Majors but tend to work more directly with the members in their specific group, rather than the entire band itself. According to Patrick Grogan who is one of the Squad Leaders, “we aren’t basing groups on sections this year. Squads are a combination of multiple sections.” Both Drum Majors and Squad leaders have to apply for leadership through an application process involving creating a resume, getting teacher recommendations, and making a project proposal that helps out the band.
There are also many alumni from years prior coming back to help with stretching, marching, and overall management of the band. According to Mr. Posner the band has help from alumni, “Jackie Litman, Maureen Monk, Sam Hall, Ms. K, and Ms. Yeager.” According to Posner, all of the Atholton alumni “know what the expectation here is at Atholton. While we are trying to rebuild post-COVID [and] they know what the vision is.”
A lesser spoken about but just as essential part to Atholtons Marching Band is the Color Guard. According to student leader Kaylie Ukstins, for those who are unaware, the Color Guards are, “the flags! We guard the color. We make it a more performative aspect of the marching band just by adding a visual people can see. Especially with this year’s show Spellbound, we are doing a lot of storytelling. In other years it’s just been a lot of music and color. But this year we have an actual story. The Color Guard are witches and we have a purpose to fulfill by communicating that through flags and dance.”
This year they not only use flags but many other props that according to Mr. Posner were made by alumni Jackie Litman, who helps to run the Color Guard. Posner said that, “She’s put a lot of time into designing stuff for the show, like making a cauldron for the middle of the field.” Ms. Litman also was the person who originally came up with the idea to turn the flag poles into broomsticks.
Everyone that is part of the Marching Band agrees– especially this year –that it becomes your second family rather than just being a group of friends. As Mr. Posner put it, “They are just as close as any sports team if not closer, like one big family. This is a place where everyone gets to be on the team and nobody gets cut. You’re not going to go out for the band and get cut because you’re not quite ready yet. Everybody gets a place, everybody gets trained, and everybody gets better.” Make sure to keep an eye out this year at halftime to watch Atholton’s Marching Band perform not only an amazing show, but a captivating and fun story.