Starkville High claims first and third place wins at Festival Disney
By STEVEN NALLEY
Starkville High School’s band brought home first place in marching and third place overall against 33 bands from schools across the country at Festival Disney April 16-18 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.
Judges evaluated the SHS band as they marched in a parade with competing schools at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. Shawn Sullivan, director of bands at SHS, said it was the band’s first time at Festival Disney since he joined the staff.
“I attribute our success to dedication to the group and to the kids wanting to work hard,” Sullivan said. “They’re very goal-motivated. This will be my fourth year here, and they’ve improved every year.”
The band also earned high honors at competitions around the state, Sullivan said, winning Best in Class at the Union Marching Contest for their band guard and field commander and at the Aberdeen Marching Contest for their field commander.
“We won straight superior ratings in everything we did this year,” Sullivan said.
Schools apply for Festival Disney by submitting video of performances from throughout the year, he said, so when the time came to apply, he wasn’t worried.
“I knew we were of caliber to get accepted into the contest,” Sullivan said. “I wasn’t worried about getting into the contest so much as winning it. I was excited that we scored as well as we did, that our kids performed as well as they did, and that we represented SHS and Mississippi that well.”
Sullivan said he is confident the band can return to Festival Disney again, but it won’t happen every year. It’s not an issue of the band’s ability, he said, as the band gets invited to many more events than it attends, including bowl games. Neither is it a funding issue, Sullivan said; he just wants to keep the band focused on their music instead of repeated trips to major cities.
“We do it as a reward,” Sullivan said. “You want it to be exciting instead of routine. We probably won’t go back to Florida but every four years, so every high school kid will have a chance to go to Orlando once in their four years. In a couple of years, we’ll probably go to a contest somewhere else.”
Starkville Academy earns three
superiors and third in marching
By STEVEN NALLEY
Starkville Academy’s band had a successful year at the Hoover Invitational Marching Festival and the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Concert Band Festival.
At Hoover, the band earned third place in division A, competing with 30 schools. Mark Hatch, band director at Starkville Academy, said that with just 38 members, the band was the smallest there, beating several bands larger than them.
“We placed ahead of two groups in our division that were larger than us and we placed ahead of two groups in Division AA that were larger than us. To me, that’s pretty impressive.”
The AA schools Starkville Academy beat, Hatch said, were Mortimer Jordan High School, with 92 members, and Saltillo High School, with 106 members. He said the band also received all-superior ratings for the drum majors, color guard and percussion at MAIS.
The band is also growing, Hatch said. He said several sixth graders are preparing to join the band, made up of students in grades 7-12, adding to the sax, clarinet and french horn sections, among others.
“We’re adding a bass guitar, a synthesizer, and an electric guitar on the front field,” Hatch said. “It’s a growing program; we’re looking to experience growth in every section next year. Not only are we growing in numbers in every sections of the band, but we’re retaining and improving the quality of every section in the band.”