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LO marching band competes at Grand Nationals

Member of Lake Orion's marching band strut their stuff in style in Indianapolis, Ind. (click for larger version)
November 23, 2011 - By Olivia Shumaker

Special Writer for The Review

High school marching bands from across the region, including the Lake Orion Dragons, replaced football players at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this month. The marching band competed in the prestigious Grand Nationals competition there on Nov. 10-12, showcasing this season's program, Femme Fatale.

While the band did not place in the event, band members and staff insist that the experience was still well worth it.

"I'd also gone three years ago to Grand Nationals, but this year takes the cake," said senior drum major Elise Burchart. "Everyone performed at their highest potential and we all made wonderful, hilarious memories."

The intense competition drew a total of 90 bands and involved two days of preliminary performances, with 45 bands on the Indianapolis Colts' field each day. The top 30 bands, as well as a few others, were selected to perform in the semifinals, with 12 making the cut to the final round.

"While the students had their best performance of the year, unfortunately the judges didn't see fit to reward them with a score high enough to reach the semi-finals," said band director Michael Steele. "Nevertheless, it was a great experience."

The band was gone for several days, transporting 138 members plus staff out-of-state. In addition, their uniforms, travel gear and a semi-truck loaded with instruments and equipment also made the seven-hour trip to Indianapolis. The Grand Nationals is one of the premier high school band competitions in the country and this is only the second year Lake Orion qualified.

"We're honestly one huge family and we all work together to reach a goal of putting on the best show that we possibly can," Burchart said. "I am endlessly proud of everyone this year for working so hard."

Like any other team at the high school, the band puts in hundreds of hours of practices and rehearsals throughout the season, Steele said. While some students agree that practices can be rough, they figured out who their leaders were and how to work as a team to bring Femme Fatale to life.

"The students worked extremely hard to make the show excellent, and their hard work showed," said Steele, who noted the band is proud of this year's successful competition season, and is looking forward to even greater success next year.

"While we would all have liked to place a little higher, the students competed very well and strove to perform better each time they completed the number," he said. "That's about all I can ask of them, so I'm extremely proud."

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