• 66°

Marching Bears take runner-up spot

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Some of the more accomplished high school bands in the state of Virginia competed at the 59th annual Fish Bowl Classic in Portsmouth Virginia last weekend, and somebody invited the Hertford County High School Band to give it the old college try.

When the competition was over, there was only one school that could leave the competition having impressed the judges more than the Hertford County contingency as the Bears finished second to host I.C. Norcom High School of Portsmouth.

The annual Shriner’s football classic pitted N.C. A & T University against Norfolk State University at the latter’s stadium where the home team won 42-20.

Fifth year HCHS Band Director Frank Williams said he believes the Bears performed even beyond their own expectations.

&uot;I believe the kids finally saw what all the hard work in July was meant to accomplish,&uot; Williams said. &uot;I think they were blown away at first when they saw the level of competition.&uot;

Williams said 12 bands from some of the premier programs in Virginia were in attendance, including Norfolk’s Lake Taylor High School, Newport News’ Heritage High School and Richmond’s Holland Springs High School.

Williams, who came to Ahoskie from Surrey, Virginia said this year’s success was a far cry from the trip his group made two years ago.

&uot;The last time we were here we didn’t even place,&uot; Williams explained. &uot;With the youth we have on this group we were ecstatic about our finish.&uot;

Williams explained that last year’s band was more senior laden, but some of those seniors still helped this group succeed.

&uot;Our kids can see that we have former Bears marching at North Carolina A & T University, N.C. Central, ECSU and even Hampton,&uot; Williams said. &uot;When the kids see that kind of example, it really makes them step up their game.&uot;

Williams said the bands are judged in several categories, including marching skills, overall sound, uniformity, enthusiasm and, more importantly crowd response.

The Marching Bears, who field 90 band members and two drum majors, are required to be just as prolific in their academic endeavors as they are in the musical aspirations.

&uot;We try to have a lot of fun out here, but the key to it all is good grades,&uot; Williams said. &uot;We have always had the full support of the community and the school board, so we return the favor by performing in the classroom and on the field.&uot;

Williams said that when he arrived in Ahoskie he had already made up his mind to network as much as possible to get the students more exposure.

Williams said his students have worked very hard to get to this point.

&uot;Back in July we were working from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. getting ready,&uot; Williams explained. They’ve really stepped up their game. I’m very proud of them.&uot;

The Marching Bears attend all varsity road games and are scheduled to perform on Oct. 14 at the Howard University Homecoming game.