Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
McDERMOTT — The Northwest High School Marching Band competed in two competitions this month, qualifying to advance to the state band tournament in Dayton.
On Oct. 19, the Northwest Band competed in a double-header of competitions — first at Green High School and then later at Ironton High School. The school competed against bands from other schools in Scioto County, Lawrence County, and some as far as Columbus.
“The way the band-world works is each weekend there’s a competition held at X-number of places. So we had the Green competition first, where they placed second in their class there,” said Northwest High School Band Director Christy Stephan. “At Ironton, they didn’t place quite as high, but the way the band-world works is you’re competing against other bands, but you’re also competing against yourself for better ratings. We actually pulled off a straight Superior rating in all the categories. I believe only one other band there — which was South Point, who took Grand Champion — they’re the only other band there that did that.”
Stephan said the band is used to hustling from one competition to another in the same day.
“We did the same thing earlier this season where we actually took Grand Champion at the West Contest, when earlier this season we did Dawson-Bryant and West on the same day,” Stephan said. “Our kids love those kind of things because it’s all-day competing, and then they have break where we eat and hang-out between contests. That’s just their normal style of life. They’re ready to go, go, go all the time.”
After earning their overall Superior rating at both Green and Ironton, the Northwest Band was qualified to participate in the state competition, at Welcome Stadium in Dayton on Sunday, Nov. 4.
“The state marching band finals is over a series of two weekends. The first was this past weekend, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They have three different locations throughout the state; one’s in Columbus, one’s in Dayton, and one’s in Brunswick, Ohio, and there are 122 bands that qualified for state finals. That’s out of the entire state,” Stephan said.
She said Northwest has a long history and tradition of playing the state competition, and even though they did not participate in the last two years, this will be their 18th time participating overall since the 1980’s when Bob Mascari directed the band.
“He kind of set up that tradition of having a good band program, and we’re trying to keep that going,” Stephan said. “Each competition, each week, we take the comments from each judge and we try to improve and we do that all season. Every contest we go to, they have constantly improved, every time.”
Stephan now directs the band with Associate Director Callie Huff and Color Guard Director Mary Ann Litreal. Stephan said the students have been working hard and practicing for several hours, three-days-a-week to get ready for the competition this week. The band is also busy preparing their upcoming Christmas shows, pep shows, and community events.
“Without the parents’ support and the school’s support, we wouldn’t be able to get where we are,” Stephan said.
The Northwest Band Boosters is hosting its annual Turkey Dinner Fundraiser on Saturday from 4 - 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the high school for $6 each, and orders can be dine-in or take-out. The money raised by the dinner goes to help the instrumental music program at Northwest.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.