By Timothy Mucciante
The Grand Blanc High School Winter Drumline competed in the WGI World Championships in Dayton last week, making it to the finals competition, placing fifth in the world for their class.
The drumline returned home on Sunday, after being in Dayton for four days. A group of parents, family and friends welcomed them home at the high school with pom-poms, cheers and air horns
Drumline members participated in the preliminary competition on Thursday, where they scored 91.388, which qualified them to move on to semifinal competition the next day. At semifinals, the drumline scored 91.638. The drumline faced stiff competition at finals but still broke into the top ten finalists, with a score of 93.013, placing fifth.
Anthony Leithauser directed the drumline, and said of this year’s expectations, “We had no specific expectations about making semifinals or finals in Dayton. There was a lot of talent coming into the season, though, so we knew there was the potential to be very competitive.”
Leithauser led the drumline together with Ann Costopulos, Dan Cenci, Paul Loos and Rachel Herr. Also assisting were former Grand Blanc High School Instrumental Program alumni Matthew Cocagne, Nathaniel Gilmore and Thomas Volker.
Grand Blanc’s drumline includes battery (drums), pit (keyboard) and actors. In this year’s show, the actors wore black body suits and acted as shadows for the battery percussion, mimicking the players’ movement. If a cymbal player crashed the cymbal’s together, the shadow actor mimicked the same action.
The students were driven to Dayton and chaperoned by Band Booster parents. Keith Morris, a chaperone and parent, loved the experience, saying, “It was an incredible season to watch these kids.”
Drumline members practiced Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and all day on most Saturdays. Stephen Brewster, a senior snare drummer, shared his thoughts about what this hard work meant to him, “This drumline season has taught me how much hard work goes a long way. We’ve had to sacrifice countless hours of our lives to practice to get to where we are now.”
While echoing Brewster’s comments about the hard work involved, other students spoke about what this year’s drumline meant to them. Sophomore cymbal player Holden Prieur said that drumline was a way to “express myself.” Senior bass drum player Jacob Schoener thanked the staff for “pushing me to be my best,” and sophomore bass player Easton Freeman said he loved to “have a chance to help the group make it to finals.”
Acknowledging the drumline’s accomplishment, Grand Blanc Community School Superintendent Clarence Garner said, “We are very proud of all of our fine arts programs in Grand Blanc and the Winter Drumline group is a great example of unlimited opportunities our students have to express their own unique genius in a multitude of ways.”
Every student experienced something a little different from participating in a world-class drumline. Perhaps Sara Morris, a sophomore marimba player, summed it up best, “I wouldn’t trade the lessons I’ve learned and the memories I’ve shared this season for the world.”