Hanford High School's marching band, percussion and color guard earned top honors at the Bands of America Western Regional Championships in Utah.
The groups took first place in the preliminary AA division for music performance and general effect, and second place in visual performance at the Nov. 3 event, said Kevin Swisher, Hanford's band director.
Those preliminary wins gave them an advantage in the finals where they placed ninth overall. The win was made sweeter because Hanford High was the smallest school to place in the Top 10 in the Western division, Swisher added.
The marching band and color guard will strut their winning style at the West Richland Veterans Day parade today, starting at 9:30 a.m. on Van Giesen Street in downtown West Richland.
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"All the other bands were from much larger schools," Swisher said. "It was nice seeing the high level of achievement of the other schools and being able to put ourselves in that category."
The marching band, percussion and color guard titled their show Scarborough Faire, and was developed by a team of Hanford instructors, including Swisher and Chris Newbury with the marching band, color guard directors Loralee Newbury and Kristin Swisher, and percussion directors Emmanuel Olaiya and Brian Phillips.
The show was intended to paint an image that Swisher described as, "transcending time, giving the viewer a glimpse back in time."
Newbury said the season has been a breakout year for Hanford High's marching band, and his students worked year round to perfect their expertise.
"They finished the highest they ever have at the local Cavalcade of Bands where they placed fourth overall," Newbury said. The band also won best percussion and the people's choice award at that fall competition held in Pasco.
Percussion director Emmanuel Olaiya praised the band members for pushing themselves to excel and willingly following the vision of their directors.
"Hanford High School band and color guard program is an up and coming force to be reckoned with in the Northwest circuit," he said. "The kids are bright, motivated, have an incredibly strong work ethic and parental support system."
From the time the Hanford music groups arrived in St. George, Utah, to the moment they said goodbye, the Utah competition was "a celebration of grace, beauty and majesty," Swisher said.
The school competed against 19 of the best, largest marching bands from California, Utah, Nevada, Washington, Idaho and Colorado, Swisher said.
Besides the recent win in Utah, the school took the prize at the Yakima Harvest Festival competition for marching bands where it was selected overall champion, and won awards for best percussion, best color guard, best general effects and best music.
Earlier this year, the band also earned fourth place overall at the Sounds of Thunder Marching Band Competition in Spokane.
"The thing that strikes me are the sheer numbers of kids who tried out for color guard and stuck with it," Newbury said. "Guard is a very hard and demanding activity. It is fun to perform with a top notch band."