To paraphrase a well-known quote, a band’s work is never done.
The Richmond Hill High School Marching Band just won another big event — claiming the grand-champion title at the Georgia Marching Band Series on Nov. 7 in Thomson — and now it’s preparing for another one. The band has been invited to perform in the National Cherry Blossom Parade in April in Washington.
On Nov. 19, the Bryan County Board of Education gave its approval for the band to use Kelly Tours Charter Buses for its trip to the nation’s capital. It is scheduled for April 15-17, with the parade taking place April 16.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment,” Bryan County Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher said after the BoE meeting. “The RHHS band has done an exceptional job of building its capacity and highlighting talent.”
It’s the season that won’t end for the RHHS band — one that started in June.
Daniel Kiene, the director of bands at RHHS, said that’s when “a lot of nuts and bolts get done” ahead of band-camp planning, which started July 1. Around July 14, the camp begins, running eight to nine hours a day for “two solid weeks.” School starts shortly after that and brings the practices, football-game performances and trips to competitions.
“They’re very committed from early part of July until literally November,” Kiene said.
But what a competition season it was. The RHHS band won three of the four events it competed in, with the only non-win coming at the LaFayette Marching Classic on Oct. 24 in Fayetteville. However, Kiene said that trip was part of a plan to improve, to see how RHHS matched up with larger-program bands that have more financial resources.
Eliza DeRienzo, a drum major in her third year with the band, said other bands in Atlanta had cannons, smoke and people suspended above the others. Still, the RHHS drum majors earned second place in their category in the open class, and Kiene said the program received “fantastic feedback.”
“We just have the same talent as them. It just shows how much harder you want to work, despite your budget,” she said.
The Cherry Blossom Parade brings another opportunity for the RHHS Band to see how it compares on a big stage. The annual parade drew more than 160,000 spectators this past spring, according to NationalCherryBlossomFestival.org.
“It’s a higher caliber of parade than we’re used to,” said Libby Malloy, a drum major in her fourth year with the band.
The band, which already is working on fundraising for the trip to Washington, had to apply for a spot in the parade. That meant sending in video and audio recordings and a rèsumè. Kiene said it was a long shot for RHHS to get into the parade, but the band wants to get on a national stage in order to be considered for events like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
But the Wildcat Marching Band got in on its first try, with the acceptance letter arriving in September. Kiene said it’s been a blur since then — and exciting.
“This one is very much about being selected based on quality of program and quality of kids,” Kiene said.