CHS Band Marches to State and National Championships

Madison Conner, Contributor

On December 3, 2019, the Calvert High School band was recognized by the Board of County Commissioner of Calvert County, Maryland for bringing home the first US Bands national title for Calvert County.

In the fall, most students and parents go to Calvert High School on Friday nights for the football game, student-section cheers, and fun Instagram photos, but it is hard to miss the phenomenal half-time show put on by the marching band.

The Calvert High School Marching Band proved their excellence when they traveled to Allentown, Pennsylvania on November 2 for the U.S. Bands National Competition, where they received awards for Best Music and Best Visual Performance, along with a season-high score of 92.705 and the first-place title for the Competition Circuit.
In the circuit, there are two classes, A-class and Open Class, Calvert is in group one, A-class (1A). The competition circuit runs through the eastern seaboard and Texas, so Calvert competed against seven other bands from four states: Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey.

After having placed first in the state championship, he Calvert High School Marching Band stood together at the Nationals ceremony as awards were announced starting in eighth place. Calvert ended in the top two, with Summerset Berkley Regional High School, who has won Nationals multiple times in the last five years. The band was ecstatic to realize that they clinched their first National title, a title that will go down in Calvert High School history.
Mr. Demetri Bedel has been Calvert High School’s Marching Band Director for the past four seasons and continues to see growth. The band’s increasing work ethic is one of the largest contributing factors to the success of the marching band.

Though the band will have nine seniors graduating this year, Bedel has confidence that the tradition of work ethic and growth will continue.

“It always bittersweet to see them go, and this year we are losing a lot of four-year members, so replacing their sound will be a big deal. We always put it in the hands of the people continuing and the people who are replacing them to continue the trend,” said Mr. Bedel.

Sophomores Rahdeeq’ Johnson, Ryleigh Berry, and Zach Childress, and junior Alex Hill, are a few key band members who show excellent leadership qualities and hope to continue this trend and lead the marching band to more success in future years.

There is no audition to become a part of the marching band, and Bedel and the Marching Band Staff never want to hold them. The only criteria are hard work and readiness to learn. It is not even necessary to play an instrument; the color guard, and their captain, Samara Duff, accepts anybody willing to learn.

However, to become the Drum Major, two years of experience with the band is required and members must complete an interview with the directors. This year’s Drum Major, senior Austin Olewnik, concludes his fourth and final season with the marching band. He sees the hard work from other members every day.

“It’s been the greatest four years of my life. Every year when we end the season, we all have 30 new brothers and sisters that will always have a connection outside of band,” said Olewnik.

Though winning state and national titles is an important accomplishment, it is not what the CHS Marching band is all about. The band members see it as an opportunity to create a community of musicians that work together to improve.

“It’s about getting better every day; not just musically or to make the show better, but how to become better people and learn life lessons that other clubs and sports don’t teach,” said Olewnik.

According to Bedel, the band’s primary goal is “to create a community based around the marching arts; through that creating better human beings, better students, and providing entertainment for everybody. Our season goal is to do the best we can on the field and winning is just a by-product of that.”

The community that is built around the band has impacted the atmosphere at football games, pep rallies and other school functions. They promote school unity and provide excellent entertainment. They have given Calvert High School a season to remember.