- Pennell Elementary School
Sun Valley Marching Band eyes another championship
NOTE: The Sun Valley Marching Band competed on Saturday, November 9 in Hershey, PA placing third in their division. With an overall score of 96.1, they placed third behind Susquehannock (96.4) and Whitehall (97.5) High Schools. We are #PennDelcoProud of their continued march of excellence. Read about their road to another successful championship season.
It is a big weekend for the Sun Valley Marching Band. The award- winning group will be competing in the Calvacade of Bands American Open Championship at Hershey Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania Saturday. They will be chasing their third championship in fourteen years.
The renowned band, who has placed in the top three since 2012, is one of three American Open Division bands (40 – 55 members) that have scored top numbers this season. Susquehannock and Whitehall High Schools, along with Sun Valley and nine other division bands, begin their performances for the judges at 6 pm November 9th.
Cavalcade of Bands is a non-profit organization composed of over one hundred member schools coming together to compete on the interscholastic level. They provide competitive opportunities with marching band competitions in the fall and indoor guard, twirler, and percussion units during the winter.
Tim Pry, Director of Instrumental Music at Sun Valley for fourteen years, knows what makes a champion. “One of the hardest things to do as a director is to find the balance between setting the goal to win vs having THE best performance you can,” he explains. “In a perfect world, those two should go hand in hand, but often times do not. It is a great teaching opportunity to be able to say that even in their best work, they still may fall short.”
The marching band season begins in the summer as band members meet to craft their routine. It’s a grueling time of preparation for what is essentially a two-month season.
“When kids start in the summer with band camp, they spend in excess of ten hours a day, every day for over two weeks together,” explains parent and Band Publicity Director Cynthia Lynn-Scull Widmaier. “These kids form a bond learning to work together for a common goal: the success of all. This lasts not only for their time on the field, but merges into their daily life as well.”
When late August arrives, they begin their Friday night football routine then slide right into almost weekly Saturday competitions for two months. It’s been another great competition season. Senior drum major Ryane Cornog is impressed with all they have accomplished.
“This group has put in so much hard work over the years,” she says. “But this season we were able to take a very young group and make it look like they have been marching their whole lives. We encouraged each other and pushed through the challenges.”
Pry was pleased with how the entire band rose to the occasion: “Our group has many new members that came in with great attitudes and are pushing the upperclassmen. They are hard-working, accepting, fearless, and kind.”
This year’s performance is titled Celestrial Light: The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars. A preview of their performance will be held at the Sun Valley Stadium Friday evening November 8th at 7PM. Family, friends, band alumni and community members often fill the bleachers as an official send off for the band. Many attendees marched in the band at Sun Valley and feel an allegiance for this group.
“Some of these returning parents were originally in the Sun Valley Marching Band themselves,” notes Widmaier. “Others start out in the Sun Valley Marching Band without having a clue what they are getting themselves into and they quickly learn Sun Valley Marching Band is family.”
Many current band members, like sophomore flute soloist Hailey Hofmann, agree. “The best thing is the family and relationships that grow out of the time spent with other band members,” she says. “You feel welcomed when being a part of the band and you feel like you belong to something bigger.”
Aside for camaraderie and family, the marching band offers many other benefits for its members. Band parent Nicole Hofmann sees the change in members as they grow with the group. “With the culmination of Mr. Pry's direction and large parental support,” she observes, “the students in marching band demonstrate improved organizational skills, improved time management, and problem solving skills. These skills help them mature academically, as well as on personal and social levels.”
Even band members recognize the impact of band competition on their future success. “For me,” says Dylan Hermann, junior baritone section, “the best thing is being able to see the show progress and to take part in something much bigger than just myself.”
Cornog agrees: “This group can shape you into a person you never thought you could be. It turns the introverted kids into soloists and the extroverted into stronger leaders.”
Saturday will be another chance for this tight group to demonstrate their leadership and hard work. Pry sees them as champions no matter what the final scores show. “A culture of success has been established over time,” says Pry. “The students are the ones who maintain and uphold that success. It is something they hold very close to them and I am very proud of what they do.”
For Widmaier, the members have already won. “We hope their take away from marching band leaves them knowing that hard work pays off, teamwork ensures everyone succeeds, and the friendships they make today may last a lifetime.”