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Blue Valley West marching band places first in state competition

Posted at 12:02 PM, Nov 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-02 14:08:02-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- The Blue Valley West High School (BVW) marching band took first place in statewide competition over the weekend.

The Red and Silver Brigade practiced more than 150 hours on their set, starting all the way back at the end of the previous school year, to get ready for the competition.

“It means a lot because it finally gives us recognition for all of the hard work we've been doing,” said drum major Kelly Bushouse. “And it makes us feel like the rest of the state knows how well we've been doing too.”

“We go through the entire summer,” Bushouse added. “A lot of people don't see that because they are not here seeing how many hours we work outside the school day, and so it just takes a lot more work than people think it does.”

The band’s theme for the competition was Call of the Wild.

“For 10 minutes, we presented to our audience and judges a concept we believe represents being in the wild,” said band director Cheryl Lee. “So there are moments of kind of peacefulness, where all animals or all the wild are in harmony, and being together beautifully. There are more wild moments; there was a stampede in our show. We had a lioness.”

“So we had different scenes and each picked a different animal,” Bushouse said. “It allowed our marchers to get into character. It was really energetic and cool.”

The band director says the design process started last December. She talked about what goes into the show and judging.

“What we do is an art, so it's subjective,” Lee said. “Part of our score is whether the people judging liked us, so what we strive for is to give the kids a show that they will not only grow from musically but that will be fun to perform for the four and a half months that they work on it.”

“I think a lot people think we're marching in straight lines and playing pop tunes, but a lot of the stuff we do is heavy classical music with lots of hard drill,” said drum major Robert Viazzoli.

Viazzoli said participation teaches skills like leadership and time management. Another drum major spoke more about the process and preparation.

“We have concert ensembles year-round, which helps us develop musically,” Bushouse said. “Then as May hits, we start on marching band."

This was the third year for the Kansas Bandmasters Association (KBA) Marching Band Championship. The BVW band director spoke about the impact of chilly weather during the performance on Saturday.

“Luckily, we got to prepare for it a little bit, because the weather started getting cold,” Lee said. “We had a couple really cold nights, and we rehearse after school and at night, not in the morning. And the wind is what makes it really, really hard to bear. “But honestly, when our kids took the field, they didn't care how cold it was; they wanted it. So, at that point you just kind of put your game face on, and they have a little grit, and they just had a great performance despite the cold.”

Lee added that the students inspire her every day. She also wanted to thank the people involved.

“Thank you to our administration. We have a lot of support from our administration and our parents,” Lee said. “It takes an army to do what we do -- Lots of moving parts, and keeping the kids fed, and keeping the kids dressed. Sometimes they'll forget their socks, and there's always a parent there that helps us get that done, and they are just integral to what we do.”

“One of the biggest parts of our job is making sure everybody is always having fun, energy is up, so we can be productive and no one is just getting down,” said drum major Zac Cole, who said he wants to continue marching after high school.