The year 2020 gave the Buffalo High School marching band countless reasons to take things easy and play it safe.
At the beginning of this marching season, there was no guarantee that the band would even have a full season, let alone make it all the way to state competition, according to band director Jason Bennett.
Band camp was moved from Colorado to BHS. The state competition was moved online. The band’s color guard didn’t even have a coach this season.
It was as good a year as any for the band to take the easy road out, Bennett said, but it did the opposite.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what the score was or what songs they played,” Bennett said. “What matters is that they set goals for themselves and pushed themselves through those goals while performing at a very high level. I think if they had done anything less than that, they would have sold themselves short. And they didn’t sell themselves short this year.”
The BHS band earned its 14th consecutive ‘Superior’ rating at the state marching band competition over the weekend — continuing a dynasty that began when this year’s freshmen were still in diapers. The ‘Superior’ rating is the highest rating possible at state marching, according to Bennett, and of the 21 bands from around the state that competed this year, only 10 earned a ‘Superior.’
“When the announcement was made on Saturday, the kids really didn’t act too surprised,” Bennett said. “They were maybe a little relieved that it was over. But they knew how much they had worked and how much effort they had put in. So when the announcement came, it was just a nice affirmation of the work they had done.”
The judges at the competition had a lot of nice things to say about the band’s performance, particularly the marching, movement and music, Bennett said.
“They had a lot of positive comments on the consistency of the marching technique and our ability to move together as one unit, and a lot of very positive comments on the music — from the drum line to the soloists,” Bennett said. “One of the judges told us that we sounded like a concert band marching on the field, which has been my goal for a while now.”
There were even reasons to celebrate the performance’s weak points, Bennett said.
“The color guard was called out as being a little weaker than the rest of the show,” Bennett said. “But I think they did a truly amazing job this year. There were just four girls, and three of them were freshmen. We haven’t had a consistent coaching staff for the color guard, and there wasn’t a coach at all this year. I think this was the best color guard I’ve seen during my time on the band, and that really speaks well of those girls.”
This year’s marching competition was held online with bands recording their performances and submitting them to judges. Bennett said the competition went off with relatively few hitches despite the new format.
“I thought the (Wyoming High School Activities) Association did a nice job of making it consistent with what it’s been in the past,” Bennett said. “I can’t imagine how hard that must have been. While I hope that we can bring back the energy of live music next year, I thought it went about as well as it could.”
Bennett said that he is proud that his band made it to the end of this unconventional season, and that they did so with plenty of style, passion and hard work.
“Those are life skills that carry on past band and past high school,” Bennett said. “Those are the skills that make good human beings, and every single one of my students have displayed those skills this season.”