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'People don't understand how much work it takes'

Hard work, dedication pay off for LOHS Marching Band

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Director Mike Steele leads the band onto the field at halftime during the game against Cass Tech. Photo by Laura Colvin (click for larger version)
November 24, 2010 - By Olivia Shumaker

Special to The Review

The Lake Orion High School Varsity Football team will not be the only ones in line to perform at Ford Field come Saturday, Nov. 27. Another Lake Orion group will put their best foot forward with the Varsity Dragons: The LOHS Marching Band.

"Our main goal for this year was to create the best possible performance for our students," said Michael Steele, Lake Orion High School teacher and director of the marching band.

Considering placements in six season competitions-second at the Drums across the Valley competition, sixth at the Bands of America Pontiac Regional at the Silverdome, third at the Americana Invitational, second at the Michigan Invitational at Atwood Stadium in Flint, first at Clarkston Invitational, and fifth at the Michigan Competing Bands Association State Finals at Ford Field - judges apparently agreed with Steele and his staff's efforts.

"As directors, we all try to design a great, entertaining show that will reflect our students' talents in the best possible way," Steele said.

"What I enjoy most is the family feeling," said marching band student Samantha Brideau.

And students certainly have time to establish that feeling from the hours, days and even months they spend working together as a band.

According to parent Chelle Cole-Martin, "These kids give up a lot of time from their summers and they love it."

Marching band students spend every Wednesday in June and July conditioning and practicing at the high school.

They begin with the basics of marching, including how to march in straight lines and how wide to make their steps.

In addition, students have a weeklong band camp at Camp Hayo-Went-Ha in August, when they learn the first "drill," which is a shape and movement on the field during the performance, and after learning the drill, they add music.

Students also have evening rehearsals at least twice a week, fourth hour class, and several hours of Saturday morning practice before competitions to build their finesse.

"In a way, each competition is like a checkpoint, regarded as a mark of how much we improved in one week," said Timothy Andridge, a marching band student.

Still, band student Luke Perzyk said that people, "cannot judge the marching band based on parades or football games."

Everyone is dependent on everyone else, if only because the entire group is marching while carrying and playing an instrument for eight to ten minutes without stopping-making the band's six to nine p.m. practices beneficial.

"A lot of people don't understand how much work and dedication it actually takes and think that being in band makes you a geek," said Noah Dyer, another marching band student.

Despite hardcore practices, many students are Advanced Placement and Honors students, and some compete in fall sports, including varsity cheerleading and football.

Parents assist not only to their students but also to all Lake Orion band students. The Band Booster parent program supports all Lake Orion band programs, encompassing all varieties of band from middle school to high school.

It assists in organizing, fundraising, sponsorships, and various other tasks for the betterment of all of the Lake Orion band programs.

"When I look back on my daughters' time with marching band, I will know that as busy as marching season is, I was privileged to be a part of it," said Cole-Martin.

"My favorite part of the season is really any time when the students feel as if they have all just performed their best," said Steele.

Olivia Shumaker is a sophomore at Lake Orion High School and an aspiring journalist who came to The Lake Orion Review and said 'I want to learn.'

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