Panther band heading to D.C.

RAYLAND – The Buckeye Local High School marching band has been selected to participate in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C. The parade will be held on May 26, 2014.

The band was nominated by Congressman Bill Johnson. It will be the only marching band from Ohio.

“We found out when they sent us a letter, it was a total surprise,” said Bill Stephens, director of the high school marching band, noting he did not apply for the chance to participate in this event. “We were just chosen.”

There are currently 120 members in the Buckeye Local High School marching band and all will be going on this trip.

“As principal, I would like to congratulate the band and directors for this honor. I am very excited for the opportunity for our students to march in Washington, D.C. Mr. Stephens and the students put in a great deal of time and effort into developing such a great band,” said Coy Sudvary, Buckeye Local High School’s principal. “I have no doubt they will represent the state of Ohio as successfully as they have represented Buckeye Local High School.”

“I’m real excited to be going and will be the only band from Ohio in the parade so when the principal called to tell me, I was super excited,” said Stephens, who has been at Buckeye Local for 20 years. “This is a first for us.”

This will be a four day trip for the students, where not only will they participate in the National Memorial Day Parade, but will also get to see the sights of Washington, D.C. They will also lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery as part of the Military Wreath Laying Ceremony.

“The Buckeye Local Panthers band is my favorite group of people in the whole wide world and they deserve this because of all the years of work,” said Stephens. “I have so much confidence in them, I would take them anywhere.”

The National Memorial Day Parade came back to Washington D.C. in 2004 after a long absence. The parade has evolved into a three-hour parade consisting of veterans and marching bands, all to honor those who died in battle.

This trip will cost $6,700. The band will sell pizza kits, seek donations from local businesses and also stage other standard fundraisers to help meet that cost.

“Everybody in the valley is welcome to send cash donations,” said Stephens.

The students are just as excited as Stephens, and many could not believe that they were chosen.

“I was very surprised,” said Sidney Kinkus, a junior at Buckeye Local who plays mellophone in the marching band. “Excitement and going up there with the band and making fond memories with the band Everyone will be proud of us.”

Kinkus was not the only one who was surprised. Karlee Leonard, a junior trumpet player, felt the same way.

“I couldn’t believe it, was very surprised,” said Leonard. “I’m kinda scared and a little nervous. I don’t know how it is going to work. I’m happy our senior class gets to do this.”

Junior tenor saxophone and this year’s field commander Zach Kaiser feels that the band’s hard work over the years has earned them this trip.

“We got selected, this small school from Rayland, Ohio, gets to go to Washington D.C. and gets to be in this parade,” said Kaiser. “It’s just amazing to know somewhere, someone is watching us and they recognize the hard work we do. It’s just nice to feel that we are special like that.”