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OHS Band Places 2nd in US Creative Class Competition

The Orange High School Panther Regiment has a tradition of excellence in competitive marching. Although they are completely virtual this season, Mr. Aaron Noё still wanted to carry on that tradition. The option he found was with the USBands marching band circuit. USBands has been hosting competitive marching competitions for over 30 years but were forced to look at a different path this year because of the pandemic. 
 
OHS Panther Reginment has entered 5 competitions this year. With each submission, they compete with schools from around the US and receive feedback on their show. They then take the feedback and strive to create a better product. This video for the second competition on October 17th received a score of 81.75 and took second place in the Creative Class. They are submitting this video which features a third piece of music for a competition on October 31st.
 
A lot of bands around the country have returned to in-person rehearsals and are submitting videos of the competition show to compete with other schools. USBands recognized that there may be ensembles who are on some type of hybrid schedule or may not be meeting in person at all like OHS. So they developed the Creative Class that allows for a "non-traditional" entry into the program. The guidelines were very broad to allow for all types of entries. When Mr. Noё first entered the category, he thought there would be more bands submitting shows similar to OHS (students recording their parts individually and then using video editing software to edit everything together into a "full band" performance). He was surprised to learn that OHS was the only band to submit this type of show.
 
When Mr. Noё was hired this summer, he recognized the tradition of competitive marching band at Orange High School. However, he knew a "traditional" competitive show would not work this year. 2020 has been an extremely difficult experience for the students and he wanted the new show to reflect their struggles and their triumphs through this season. So, he chose 2 pieces that would reflect all that's been happening this year.
 
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" reflects the students' struggles in coping with the COVID-19 closures. Mr. Noё surveyed the band students and asked them to write comments about their emotions during the pandemic (both good and bad). The band's student leadership team then took all of those comments and developed four statements (which you hear in the performance) that reflect those emotions.
 
Events this summer brought to light many racial issues that still exist in our country. Changes is a 1998 hip hop song by rapper Tupac Shakur which highlights many of the same emotions they collectively saw brought to light this summer 22 years later. In Changes, Tupac uses Bruce Hornsby's "That's Just the Way It Is" to highlight the reality that many feel about racial injustice and the feeling that "...some things will never change." To highlight this emotional struggle, the students collected quotes from author and civil rights leader, James Baldwin, which you can hear being read by the students in the performance. The goal of the students was to open the conversation to bring about the change that so many people like James Baldwin and Tupac have been striving to accomplish for so long.
 
For the next three competitions, OHS will be adding the song "Believer" by Imagine Dragons to their show. This song was chosen by the students to show their belief that things will get better and that we will be able to come together in-person and unite with each other. This final movement will feature positive quotes by celebrity and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey, from a commencement speech she gave at Harvard in 2013. 
 
Mr. Noё states that "All of these students are amazing". Some of the students highlighted in this video include drum majors, Laura Garcia ('22) & Colin O'Hagerty ('22). Speakers in order of appearance: Tia Hilber ('24), Calvin Jones ('23), Nicholas Pell ('22), Hana Leonard ('21), Colin O'Hagerty ('22), Alex Underwood ('22), Laura Garcia ('22), Chris Wilson ('21), Kaylee Faison ('22) and Trumpet soloist: Colin Stafford ('21).
 
See their competition video HERE.