By RAYNA GLASS
From Disney World to Worlds, the Hart County High School Band has been on the road to success this school year.
“This has been a great year for us. We’ve done very well. We have a great bunch of kids,” said band director Ed Johnson.
As far as highlights of the season, it would difficult for Johnson to put anything above their trip to Disney World where thirty-eight students had not only the opportunity to visit the park but to march down Main Street in the main character parade.
“Out of five schools in Kentucky, we were the only one selected to walk in the parade,” said Johnson.
The planning process began over a year ago for the trip. Disney Youth’s Performing Arts Onstage allows opportunities for students of instruments, dance, vocals, and other talents to perform in Disney World and Disneyland. Applying to play in the parade was a year long process. To be nominated and selected to perform, recent and past accomplishments, recommendations, pictures, and videos had to be complied and submitted.
The group was in Disney this spring for four days, getting in all the Disney parks, Universal, and making a trip to the beach in that time.
“So many had never been to Disney, getting to see their faces light up with excitement walking through the gates to the park was great,” said Johnson. “Many hadn’t seen the ocean either, so we did that. It was great getting to see them experience new things and places.”
Marching through Disney World with their name announced throughout the park while they played “Patriotic Bits and Pieces” was definitely a highlight for the band, but it was not their only one this year.
The Winter Guard, an extracurricular after school program, placed bronze at Winter Guard International, and the Cadet Guard placed gold. The Cadet Guard went undefeated this school year in competition.
In Dayton, Ohio at Worlds competition April 20-23, Hart County WINDS placed top 10 after reaching the finals. WINDS, like winter guard, is an extracurricular program that students pay a fee to participate in.
Thirty-six groups were involved in the competition, with competitors coming from across the United States, as well as Japan and Canada. Within their division, Hart County competed against twelve before passing preliminary judging to reach finals.
Hart County’s ensemble was one of just two groups from Kentucky that participated.
Not only did students have the chance to compete at Worlds, but people across the country and even in Europe tuned in online to listen to a live broadcast of the competition.
“People from California to New York heard us perform,” said Johnson.
Johnson credits the year’s success to the kids involved in the program, their talent, and the involvement of parents and community.
“We have a wonderful group of involved parents. It’s nice to have the support of parents and the community. The kids really enjoy performing for the community,” said Johnson.
The band has one final performance lined up for this school year. They will perform on May 16 at 7 p.m. in Munfordville Elementary’s gymnasium for the public. This will be the last performance as a Raider for the band’s six seniors. If all return, there will be seventeen juniors to lead the program next year.
Looking ahead to the next school year, Johnson knows that it will take thoughtful planning to work around school construction to find a place to practice, but for now, he and his students are enjoying the successes of this season.
“We always have good years, good kids, and good performers, this year just stands out,” said Johnson.