Newberry High School students have more to cheer for than their football team.
The NHS Band of Pride placed first in the 1A division at the Kingdom of the Sun Marching Band Festival at North Marion High School on Nov. 9 and will compete at the state competition Saturday.
The 38-member band received a score of 86.4 out of 100 in the preliminary competition, placing it first in the state for its division and seventh overall out of 25 marching bands in the North Central Florida region.
The band received the highest rating — superior with distinguished — for every category in which they were judged, including music, visual, general effect, percussion color guard and drum major.
Band director Jermaine Reynolds said the overall score was based on music, visual or marching and general effect, such as using props on the field.
“A lot of them said they never in their life have heard of this band getting a score that high or anywhere near that high before,” Reynolds said.
He said it’s more challenging to be a smaller band because it’s easier for judges to find mistakes in a small band’s performance.
But size has not stopped the band from standing out among the competition.
“The band program was getting very good over the years, but this year and last year, the band has completely kicked it into a different gear,” he said.
Reynolds and show designer Arjuna Myles came up with the idea for the band’s “As Light as a Feather” performance, which included tarps and backdrops of clouds to represent a sky.
Jake Fletcher, 17-year-old junior at NHS and head drum major, said the 10-minute show portrays the journey of a majestic and strong eagle as it soars through the sky to the sound of the music.
“I think before, we knew what we wanted to do, but Mr. Reynolds really lighted the fire and helped us get to where we actually wanted to be,” he said.
Reynolds started at NHS two years ago after graduating from the University of North Florida with a degree in music education, and he recruited his five-member staff when he started at NHS.
“We’re closer knit together and we can actually communicate what we want to do,” Fletcher said, “and it’s easier to push the passion through everybody. We’re all a family here.”
“I wanted to be able to have Newberry begin to join that list of fine band programs in this county,” Reynolds said, “and slowly but surely we’re making our way up there.”
The NHS Band of Pride will compete again Saturday at the 2013 Florida Marching Band Coalition State Semi-Finals at Northeast High School in St. Petersburg. The top five bands will compete in the finals at Tropicana Field.
“All I can do is hope we’re going to do well and perform exactly like we know how to perform,” Fletcher said. “Through really hard work … (we) became as good as we could be. We unlocked all the talents that we have.”