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The student news site of Utica High School


The student news site of Utica High School



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Chieftain Marching Band continues seven-year division 1 streak

Natalie Garwood
Senior Maia Suggs runs back to the band with their division 1 trophy from MSBOA festival.

Senior Drum Majors Maia Suggs and Chloe Fasho stand with Junior Drum Majors Jaelyn Kaczmarczyk and Sean Mondello and Color Guard Captains senior Lauren Garwood and junior Allison Tuttle stand at attention in front of packed bleachers awaiting their rating.

“The Chieftains from Utica earned a…”

Their hearts raced. Hundreds of hours of work and endless nerves for this – their MSBOA rating.

“First Division rating.”

The student leaders stepped forward and saluted. Tears had already begun to fall down Suggs’ cheeks.

“It was the best feeling in the world,” Suggs said. “Having to hold on my feelings until the drum majors were released from receiving the awards was probably one of the most difficult things I have ever done but it was all worth it when i was able to run back to the band holding up the trophy we all worked so hard for.”

As the drum majors were released, the bands erupted into cheers again.

“I can’t lie, I was scared,” flute section leader senior Lily Oddo said. “I knew we were prepared but it’s still scary because you don’t know what the judges are going to think. I was so excited because this is my last year and knowing we have gotten a division 1 for as long as I’ve been in marching band was a big accomplishment for me. I was able to celebrate with my friends that have been with me from the beginning and now to the end of the road. It was a special moment to us all.”

There was also a lot of pressure put on the new marchers.

Before a football game, junior Jaelyn Kaczmarczyk dances with her fellow drum majors. (Natalie Garwood)

“The seniors this year deserved a Division 1 rating,” sophomore Natalie Spear said, “and when I heard people saying that Mr. Bays was crying, I was deeply touched because I realized that he’s growing up with all of the seniors. He’s been with all of them since day one. I felt like he was so proud of all of us.”

Festival was the pinnacle of the season – the moment the whole band looked forward to with nerves and excitement.

“It’s always great watching our band members celebrate the announcement of the ratings at Marching Band Festival,” director Brett Bays said. “They all work so hard through the summer and fall and you only get one performance in front of the judges. It’s like the Super Bowl of marching band, so there’s a lot of pressure to perform well.”

Instead of marching out with a Super Bowl ring, the band marched out with a record-high score.

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About the Contributor
Natalie Garwood
Natalie Garwood, Photography Editor
Natalie is a senior and this is her third year on staff. Along with being the Photography Editor for the newspaper, she is also the Editor-in Chief of the Warrior Yearbook.  She runs the popular Photo of the Day series on the yearbook Instagram @uhswarrior. Natalie has gone to Michigan Scholastic Press Associations Summer Workshop 3 times where she won 2 Excellence Awards and 1 Sparty Award. She runs lights and designs the playbill for Utica's theatre program, is a part of International Thespian Society Troupe #4260, and is also in National Honor Society.

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