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D’Evelyn High marching band hits another high note

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Group takes first place in 2A state competition for the sixth straight year

By Deborah Swearingen

For the sixth year, the D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School marching band took first place in the 2A state competition.

But unlike years past, this win felt less certain for the 53-member band as they went into the final round of competition as the third seed.

“I was pretty pessimistic going into it. I didn’t think we were going to win,” said Brennan Reeves, a senior percussionist.

Junior mellophone player Selma Shepherd agreed, calling it “a tight competition.”

It may have been D’Evelyn’s sixth straight win, but it was the first victory under the direction of Becky Paschke. And the new director said it was “pretty exciting” to earn the top spot in her first year.

Though it was her first year as director, Paschke was familiar with the group, having previously worked as the band’s visual director. Paschke also taught many of the band members at Dennison Elementary School.

“Some of the kids I’ve had for 10 years, which is pretty cool,” she said.

The band began practicing for the state competition over the summer. It performed a rendition of Antonín Dvořák’s “New World Symphony.”

Called “Friendly Skies,” the theme was airplanes, and each part of composition mimicked a different airplane experience.

“It’s really popular music, but I don’t think anyone’s ever done this take on it. … It just kind of let the audience go on a journey with the marchers — being at the airport to boarding the plane, the in-flight entertainment and then the turbulence section,” Paschke said.

For Shepherd, Reeves and drum major Charles O’Brien, there was never a doubt about joining the marching band. Each has a history with music stretching long before their decision to join.

O’Brien had a family incentive — his sister was in the band, too. Shepherd picked up the French horn in fifth grade. Reeves, on the other hand, had a different reason for joining.

“I wanted to play football, but my mom said I was too small,” he said, smiling.

For all, though, music plays an important role.

“Well, music for me kind of lets me express, like, the feelings that I can’t get out with words. … If I’ve had a rough day, I can go play and just get every nervous feeling out of my system,” O’Brien said. “… I can always go to music to comfort me.”

Reeves echoed that point.

“I use music as a display of emotion,” he said. “… It can convey emotion or make you feel certain emotions depending on what you’re playing or listening to.”