Seneca East band to compete at state

ATTICA – The Seneca East High march band received a “I” superior rating during competitions in March, moving on to compete this month.

“Our band has had a great year,” Dana Willman, Seneca East band director said.

The band performed at the District 2 Large Group Adjudicated Event in Oak Harbor March 11. There the band earned a superior rating, qualifying members to perform at the state level.

“I am very pleased with the performance our students gave that day,” Willman said. “A ‘I’ superior rating is something that does not come easily and we got straight ‘I’ ratings that day, which really speaks volumes in terms of our success this year.”

Willman said the band worked diligently, having more time to prepare this year.

“In my 28-year career at Seneca East, there has not been a year of this rating level that I can recall,” she said. “Even though we have had great students each year in band and have made it to state a few times before, the last being 2012. Reaching this goal was not even something we were expecting but it makes us quite ecstatic.”

In four years, senior Shelby Laughlin said this is her first “I” rating.

“It was very exciting to me,” Laughlin said.

Laughlin, who plays tuba in the band, said her family has been involved in music and she knew she always wanted to be in band.

“I would love to get an ‘I’ rating at state,” Laughlin said.

Ashley Cleland, a junior trumpet player, said she also knew she always wanted to be in band since she was in elementary school.

“There were a lot of older kids that I looked up to that were in band and I wanted to be like them,” Cleland said. “I am really proud of our band for earning a ‘I’ rating. We have come a long way from the beginning of learning our music and it’s a great feeling knowing that all of our hard work paid off.”

Cleland said her goal for the remainder of the year is to play the best they can at state.

“We’re all one big family and we can all rely on each other to play our best and be successful,” she said.

“When I first found out we earned a ‘I’ I was ecstatic,” Alexis Kelbley, sophomore clarinet player, said. “I knew we could do it, of course, but we’ve come so far in such a short period of time I couldn’t help but be overjoyed.”

Kelbley said her greatest moments of band are seeing a new piece of music for the first time, thinking, “Oh no. I am never going to be able to play this.”

“However, one thing about our amazing band and our amazing director is we never give up,” Kelbley said. “After a few weeks, we all start to understand the piece a little more and we start to create the feeling that we need to.”

Kelbley said she joined band in fifth grade.

“I remember going to a few home football games when I was little and not caring about anything else except the half-time show,” she said. “I loved watching the band perform. It was a small dream of mine to be able to play on that field and hear the crowd go wild while we dance and run around. I guess in a way, I am living a dream I used to have. I love being a part of the Tiger Pride so much; I wouldn’t trade this for the world.”

“There has been a very positive attitude in the band this year that has really led to forming bonds in the classroom akin to being a family,” Willman said. “When one succeeds, we all succeed. We celebrate many things as a group and have rewards and fun times built into the program. It is such a positive atmosphere in the room and every day is a new challenge.”