Improving on greatness is a difficult task, but the William Mason High School Marching Band has just completed yet another historic season.
At the 2016 Bands of America Grand National Championships November 10-12 in Indianapolis, Mason reached new program heights, finishing third
place in the nation, and earning their highest BOA score ever with a 96.55. For the first time in program history, the band placed in the Class AAAA top three during Semi-Finals competition, and won a first-ever caption award for Outstanding Visual Performance. Mason also retained its title as the top-finishing Ohio band for the sixth straight year and was the only band from Ohio that advanced to Finals.
“This was an experience unlike any that I have ever had,” shared Mason City Schools’ Chief Innovation Officer Jonathan Cooper, who made his first trip to Grand Nationals to support the band. “The energy and enthusiasm that each band brought to the field was contagious. As each band took the field, thousands of fans erupted in cheers of encouragement and anticipation.” Cooper said he was most impressed with the “professionalism and respect” demonstrated by the entire band community at Grand Nationals.
Competing against 100 top marching bands from across the country, Mason intrigued spectators and judges with their show entitled “World out of Balance,” which featured 50 inflatable, four-foot clear globes, earning the hashtag, #thatbubbleband.
“This is the first time we’ve had an interactive prop that is also a costume,” explained Mason’s Band Director Susan Bass. “The globes were a very fun prop. Ideas for the show’s choreography actually came from the students exploring with the spheres.”
According to Bass, the show developed throughout the season thanks to an incredible design team that worked with students and staff. “It was very fun for our students to create different characters in a different world, trying to survive in this unique society that we built on the field,” shared Bass. “We are always looking at the world today and thinking about how we want to take care of it, and we hoped that by the end of our show, the audience could see the strength and power of the world surviving and know that there’s always hope.”
Bass emphasized that one person alone could never lead a band program to this level of success, and she credited the collaborative nature of the staff, including Avious Jackson, Jason Sleppy, Zach Hinson, Micah Ewing, Benjamin Loyer, and Mark Moreno, along with countless others who made up this year’s team.
But according to Bass, the staff members are just one element that contributes to the program’s success and uniqueness. “The sense of community that we’ve developed with everyone in our band family—the students, parents, friends, and staff—is what makes this program so very, very special,” said Bass.
Cooper also appreciated this spirit of community. “I’ve gained a new level of appreciation for our outstanding band and the complexity behind the logistics of transporting, lodging, feeding, and prepping a band the size of a small school district,” shared Cooper. “It truly takes an army of volunteers, including dedicated parents who work together to support our amazing students.”
About Bands of America Grand National Championships:
Grand National Championships is an annual three-day event held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis that includes Preliminaries, Semi-Finals, and Finals. Bands receive recorded evaluations from panels of leading educators and marching experts, along with written score sheets. The nation’s top bands compete in two days of Prelims, with thirty-five of those bands advancing to Semi-Finals. The top twelve scoring bands from that round advance to Finals competition.
Mason first competed at Grand Nationals in 2000, placing 55th, and the band has improved on that finish every year. In 2011, the band cracked into the top twelve bands to earn a spot in Finals, finishing 10th, and has competed in Finals every year since then.