Marching band wrap up busy, successful competition season


Competition season for Bartow County's four high school marching bands ended last month with a generous amount of hardware coming home with them. 

On top of preparing for an appearance in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Woodland High School found time to compete in three competitions this fall, winning overall grand champion at one of them.

WHS also managed to co-host a competition with Cass High School, which won Best of Class at one of its contests.

Adairsville High School took home a Silver Division championship and a first-place finish in its two competitions while Cartersville High School scored numerous superior ratings and Top 3 finishes for almost all units in one contest.  


Woodland High School 

The Wildcat Marching Band competed in the Creekview Marching Classic in Canton on Sept. 29, the Blue Ridge Mountain Marching Classic on Oct. 14 and the Southern Invitational in Marietta on Oct. 21.

Led on the field by senior drum majors Banta SeSay and Stephen Willoughby and junior Jennifer Mendoza, the 238-member band was awarded the overall grand championship for being the highest-scoring band in the competition at Blue Ridge along with having the highest-scoring drum majors and color guard in the Gold Division for schools in Class AAAA or higher.

Additionally, the band came in second place overall at Creekview and was second runner-up at the Southern Invitational. 

"The students were juggling a tremendous amount of information this year between our regular competition season and preparations for the Macy’s Parade," Director of Bands Eric Willoughby said. "I could not be more proud of how they were able to handle the additional material and rehearsals throughout the season." 

The director said he thinks his students would agree that "our first competition was the most memorable."

"The audience at Creekview High School was incredibly engaged with our students in their performance," he said. "The ovations throughout the performance were so encouraging to the students. There were so many younger members that had not yet experienced the joy of performing for such a supportive and encouraging audience." 

Woodland's show was titled "Hope Springs Eternal … From Darkness to Light" and featured "Lolapalooza" by John Adams, "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Edvard Greig, "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen and Bacchanale by Camille Saint-Saens. 

Cass High School

The 125-member Marching Colonels band competed in three competitions — the Creekview Classic, the Legacy of Champions in Carrollton on Oct. 13 and the White Columns Invitational at Milton High School Nov. 3 — while also co-hosting the Northwest Georgia Marching Championship with Woodland Oct. 27 at CHS and performing an exhibition at the end of it.  

Receiving superior ratings for band, percussion and drum majors at all competitions, the Colonels — led on the field by senior drum major Candice Simmons and junior drum major Kathryn Mullinax — were named Best of Class AAA for band, percussion and guard at Carrollton, and the guard and drum majors came in third place in the Silver Division for schools in Class A, AA and AAA.

It also took first place for drum majors and third place for band at Creekview as well as second place for guard and third place for percussion, drum majors and band at Milton. 

"I was extremely proud of all of their performances this year," Band Director Megan Pruitt said. "This year’s production was one of our most competitive thus far." 

Titled "The Bells of Notre Dame," the show explored the architecture of the French cathedral and its grand organ, stained glass, stone gargoyles and sound of the bells and featured "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," "Sanctuary," "Angels in the Architecture" and "The Bells of Notre Dame" from the Disney classic.

Pruitt said the highlight of the season was "the band's performance at the competition we hosted at Cass." "The stands were completely full, and the students put all of the energy they had into their performance," she said. "That performance was exciting, and the crowd was really responsive. The students felt a great sense of pride after their performance that night. The band has come a long way this year, and I cannot wait to see what they can do next year." 

Adairsville High School

Led by first-year Band Director Everett Cannady, the 96-member Marching Tiger band competed in the Armuchee Invitational Marching Competition at Armuchee High School on Sept. 29 and in Blue Ridge competition.

The band, drum major, color guard and percussion received all superior ratings at both events, and the band also came in first place in Class AA at both. 

The group, led by drum majors Sierra Fritz, a senior, and Leah Harp, a junior, also was named Silver Division champions at the Blue Ridge competition.   

"I think the students performed really well," Cannady said. "This is my first year as director at Adairsville so I was especially proud of the band for keeping the traditions of the program alive amidst a change."

The show this year was "Mary Poppins Returns" featuring music from the Disney classic "Mary Poppins," Cannady said.

"The timing of the show corresponds to the release of Disney's 'Mary Poppins Returns' later this month," he said.

The highlight of the fall for the new director was "seeing the musical and personal growth of the students throughout the season."

"The music and drill for this year's show was challenging," he said. "I always like seeing students rising to meet high expectations rather than settling for an easier challenge."

Cartersville High School

Also led by a new director, Alex Shive, the 90-member Purple Hurricane Marching Band attended the Legacy of Champions competition and the Northwest Georgia Marching Championship. 

The ensemble, led on the field by senior drum major Keane Whittenburg, earned several superior ratings and a silver medal for percussion at Legacy and several superior ratings and third place for band, color guard and percussion in Class AA at Northwest Georgia.

"I believe the band program at Cartersville High School is at a critical point in defining itself as a competitive band but an entertaining band in the north Georgia area," Shive said. "They exhibited superior sportsmanship at every event they attended and have set themselves up for success in the years to come."

The transformation he saw his band make with its show titled "From Within," a "journey through the human experience and about overcoming obstacles in one's life," was the high point for Shive.

"My highlight of the competitive season was watching my students take a show that was created to be an entertaining crowd-pleaser on a Friday night and turn it into a competitive show at a Saturday marching contest," he said. "They proved to themselves that you can do both successfully."