POMEROY — The heat of the black pavement thumps with the sound of feet as band members belt hits, perform marching drills while the color guard waves life-size “pencils” made with tape and swimming foam noodles.
It’s band camp week for the Meigs Marauder Band as they continue to put their show together, “School of Rock,” for the upcoming season. The show will comprise of four songs: “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper, “Dream On” by Aerosmith and a Queen medley.
According to Meigs Marauder Band Director Toney Dingess, this year there are 66 horns on the field, 10 battery (or marching percussion), 17 color guard and five in the pit (stationary percussion), along with one field commander, adding up to 99 marching members.
In order for the band to have health and success, the Band Boosters aid the kids throughout the day by providing a tent for water breaks, along with lunch and dinner during band camp (where they feed about a total of 150 people), snacks and a nurse in case of injuries. The boosters are also preparing for the band booth that will be present at the Meigs County Fair in a few short weeks.
It was under the cool shade of the Band Boosters tent that one of the band members watched from the sideline for the day. Chelsie Knopp, a senior trumpet player, was recently diagnosed with pilocytic astrocytoma, which is a benign cancerous tumor about the size of a finger that was discovered about halfway down her spine. According to Chelsie’s father, Chuck, Chelsie was diagnosed in March and began chemotherapy treatments in April, with treatments hopefully wrapping up in about a year.
“She has done a remarkable job ever since going through it, and coming out (of it),” Chuck said. He also praised his daughter for her activities, including marching band, working at the London Pool in Syracuse. Chelsie is interested in nursing and hopes to attend Kent State when she graduates.
She said of all her high school experiences, she will miss band the most.
“I’ll miss (performing at) football games and marching out on the field,” she said.
Chuck said that Chelsie has recently been able to march with the rest of the band, but needed a break Wednesday.
“It’s just a little hiccup in the road,” he said.
As Chelsie watched from under a tent used for water breaks for the campers, other students reminisced about their favorite aspects of marching band. Hope Diehl, a 10th grade clarinet player, said this is her second year of marching band and added that she’s excited to perform this year’s show because of how it varies from past shows.
“It’s different in that it’s really getting out there this time,” she said. “We’re putting ourselves more out there drill-wise, and really getting creative with what we’re doing this year.”
Devon Buffington, a senior alto sax player, said he also liked the drill, and said this year’s has been more fun than past year’s. He said his favorite part of the show is the medley.
Cory Scarberry, a senior pit member, said that when he graduates he’s going to miss his friends and band.
“It’s just basically changed my life,” he said.
Seniors Miranda Gillilan and Jaxon Meadows shared the same sentiment, with Gillilan saying that choosing to join marching band was one of the best decisions she’d ever made. While Meadows plays mellophone (marching French horn), Gillilan is involved in the color guard, which she decided to do during eighth grade.
“I really watched the flag girls a lot, and that’s what I ended up doing,” she said. “I’ll miss my friends the most, the socialization aspects, and Mr. Dingess, too.”
Meadows agreed that the socialization was one of the best parts of marching band.
“For our school, (99 members is) one-fifth of our school, and that’s crazy,” he said. “People are just different (from the norm), and that’s nice.”
When the Marauder band is not practicing, they will be performing at football games, competing in weekend competitions, and, they hope, making it to the Ohio Music Education Association state championships in November.