Ask Richmond Hill High School senior Sydney Scooler to rank how important music is to her on a scale of 1-10, and she comes back with a nine.
“With 10 being oxygen, music ranks at a nine along with being a leader and a good example in society,” Scooler said.
“It’s a part of who I am, and I simply can’t imagine who I would be without it.”
Fortunately for Scooler — and for music — she won’t have to.
The senior musician with the combined SAT score of 2,030 recently found out she’s been signed to play mellophone with the 2013 World Grand Champion drum corps Carolina Crown. It’s a big deal in marching band circles.
It’s also a dream Scooler said she has been working for since she was a freshman.
But it almost didn’t happen.
Last April, Scooler was driving out of her subdivision when her car was hit by an SUV going 55 mph. The car was totaled, the driver’s side crushed.
“So was Sydney’s body,” wrote her mother, Keirsten Scooler, in the family’s 2013 Christmas letter to friends. “She had 11 fractures and a collapsed lung.”
Keirsten Scooler added one more sentence about the wreck, which put her daughter in a wheelchair for a month.
“I was called to the scene of the accident and can tell you that Sydney survived because God protected her that day,” the she wrote.
The rest of the letter was a testament to her oldest daughter’s determination to keep going.
“God’s work did not stop there,” the letter said. “Two weeks later Sydney attended her prom in her wheelchair. A week after that she stood next to her walker and did her conducting audition for drum major. One month after the accident she played French horn in the spring concert.”
And by Memorial Day, Sydney Scooler was walking on her own, serving as a junior marshal at Richmond Hill High School’s graduation ceremony.
Her own recollection of the accident is that she couldn’t let it stop her, even if that might be easier.
“I remember the first thing I thought when waking up in the hospital was ‘will I ever be able to play again?’” she said.
She went to physical therapy twice a week, did the exercises and basically refused to give up.
“The biggest thing I learned from the accident was that, even in the face of opposition, I could accomplish anything with some hard work and determination,” Scooler said.
The Ice Cream Stop next to the Publix in Richmond Hill is holding a March 8 fundraiser to help Scooler raise $3,475 she needs for fees for participating in the band corps.
It seems a small amount for such a big dream.
“Being contracted into Crown has easily been the highest honor I have ever been given,” Scooler said. “Being the world champions of the 2013 season, they can easily be considered the best of the best, and it’s still a shock to sit down and think about what I have actually managed to do.”
Carolina Crown is part of Drum Corps International. That’s the big leagues of marching bands.
“DCI is the highest level of the marching arts that you could even join, almost like the NFL of the band world,” Scooler said. “They were what us dorky band kids aspired to be, they just looked so cool. I thought it was way out of my reach, though, until (former RHHS students) Sean Hardy and Rich Li made it into another corps a couple years back.”
Read more in the Feb. 26 edition of the News.