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Washington band takes first place honors

The Washington High School Band spent hours practicing in Summer Band Camp. Now it looks as if that practice has paid off with a first place finish in Bloomfield this weekend.
The Washington High School Band spent hours practicing in Summer Band Camp. Now it looks as if that practice has paid off with a first place finish in Bloomfield this weekend.

BLOOMFIELD — Washington’s Marching Demon Nation Band took 3A First Place honors at the Davis County Festival Bands competition this past weekend in Bloomfield.

Band Director Don Hughes said the weather conditions forced his students to make a number of last-minute changes, but they handled it very well.

“They canceled the marching portion of the competition because of rain, thunder and lightning. Then we got word the competition was running behind. We ended up sitting on the bus for an hour,” he said.

And that wasn’t all.

“The band directors got together and decided to hold the competition in the high school gym because of the weather. That meant we would not have a marching competition,” Hughes said. “So they put down some tarp on the gym floor and we played there. We usually take a 20-minute warm-up on the field, but due to the delays, we only had five minutes.”

It was also decided that the bands could choose if they wanted to appear in uniform.

“Some bands did, but most of the students wore their street clothes, except for the drum majors for their competition,” he said. “Our students chose not to wear uniforms.”

Despite the altered conditions, the band also earned additional overall honors. The overall honors included Outstanding Horn Line, Outstanding Drum Line and Outstanding Drum Major.

“The students handled the challenges very well. They are just a good bunch of kids with great leadership from our students,” Hughes said.

The musical selection the band performed is titled “The Witch and the Saint.” As a show band, the students work on one piece of music for its fall season. Hughes said the music is an arrangement taken from a German work of art.

Hughes said the practice, including this summer’s band camp, has really paid off for the students. He said the camps and the practice are teaching his students important life lessons.

“I tell them that they are part of something bigger than themselves; we succeed together or fail together,” Hughes said. “And what one person does on the field, affects everyone on the field.”

Judging by the band’s success, the lesson on individual and group responsibility appears to have been absorbed by the students. That lesson is important because there is something that is different about band competition.

“There is no bench. We don’t take performers out of the game. Every member of our team plays every time for the entire time,” he said.

The band travels next to Muscatine for the Muskie Invitational competition. Hughes said the Muscatine contest is always tough.

“It’s a powerhouse competition. There will be six 3A competitors there,” he said.

Following that, the band travels to Pella for the state-sponsored contest.

“There aren’t any trophies at the state competition,” he said. “We are competing for a Division One rating.”

The band is ready to compete, he said.

“The students are pretty excited. We are looking forward to the competition,” he said.