Photo submitted From left to right, Amsterdam High School Students Rachel Novotny, Haley Cook, Allie Seyfried, Mikaela Kellogg and Cody Burda pose with the trophies and placard earned by the Marching Rams and Jazz Band during a music festival in Washington, D.C. Sunday.
By HEATHER NELLIS
Recorder News Staff
The Amsterdam High School Marching Rams and Jazz Band stacked five awards this weekend in a trip to a Washington, D.C. music festival, and took advantage of the location in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch President Barack Obama's inauguration speech Monday.
"The students loved every minute of it," said Director Michael Perry. "Just being down here was a phenomenal experience, to be apart of the crowd and the excitement."
Perry said he'd originally applied for the band to have participated in the inaugural parade, in which the president parades down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Sixteen marching bands are chosen from roughly 2,800 applications, Perry said.
And even though the Marching Rams wasn't chosen, Perry decided to make the trip anyway to compete Saturday in a Presidential Inauguration Festival, organized by the student travel organization Brightspark.
The bands practiced three times a week to learn a new song called "Gitana," which Perry described as a Latin tune.
"I wanted them to work as a total band learning something from scratch, so the kids could see something develop from beginning to end. The kids had to memorize the music and the maneuvers, and the Color Guard and Majorettes had to learn their routines. The whole band worked together," Perry said.
The work clearly paid off.
In an awards ceremony Sunday, Perry said the Jazz Band and Marching Band each walked away with two trophies, one each for grand champion, and one each for first place with a gold rating. The marching band was additionally awarded with a placard for outstanding band front, for the Majorettes' performance, Perry said.
"It was an exciting, humbling experience. The kids put on a lot of hard work the last three weeks, and the whole band worked together. The staff is proud of all their efforts, and the kids learned that effort does pay off."
To put the cherry on the sundae, the group made the trek to watch Obama's inauguration speech Monday, a first for both the students and adults alike, Perry said.
"It was a 1 1/2-hour walk there, and a 1 1/2-hour walk back," Perry said. "None of the kids complained, we just followed the crowd of people there and they just soaked it all in."
In addition to watching the speech, the weekend featured a visit to the Arlington National Cemetery and a dinner theater.
"The highlight of everything, of course, was winning all the trophies," Perry said. "But we told them to be humble, because everyone who competed are musicians and they tried their best, too."