SOUTH PLAINFIELD - The South Plainfield High School Marching Band (S.P.H.S.) hosted the 35th S.P.H.S. Marching Band Competition on the afternoon of Oct. 6 at Frank R. Jost Field. After a four-year hiatus, music filled the stadium once again as marching bands converged on the field, taking their turn in competition. All proceeds from the event went to support the S.P.H.S. band, chorus and orchestra.
“I thought the Home Show was phenomenal,” said S.P.H.S. Director of Bands William Haughwout. “The parents organized it so well and there was a lot of positive feedback from the judges, spectators and directors. Everything was run very smoothly and handled very well.”
Each week during marching band season, the S.P.H.S. Marching Band travels throughout the state of New Jersey to perform in Tournament of Bands (TOB) competitions. Marching in competition on their home field was an experience many students say they will never forget.
“Everyone came out,” said Sebastian Annamanthado, trumpeter. “It was so great being with all our friends and seeing your family in the stadium. The applause was amazing. To have this experience of a home competition my junior year, was just a feeling like no other.”
“It was really awesome seeing familiar faces,” said Sara Dabul, Senior trumpeter. “When you go to other competitions you see their people, but when you’re at your own home show, you even see people who have graduated come back to see the performance.”
“I got to help teach the band this morning at the rehearsal, which was amazing,” said S.P.H.S. Alumni Michael Clevenger, current member of the Marching Band Golden Bears at Kutztown University. “Going from the other shows I had been in, this show is great. There are so many more visuals than past years. We don’t usually have the audio amplification, and they bring a whole different vibe to the show.”
After the decision to re-establish the South Plainfield home show tradition was made by the S.P.H.S. Boosters of the Musical Arts, planning began and the Music Booster Home Show Committee was formed. The logistics alone of coordinating the arrival of seven bands, each with numerous buses and vehicles transporting equipment, took several months to plan.
“I could feel the sense of pride that the Tiger Marching Band had during the home show,” said William Co, President of the Music Boosters. “Thanks to the huge effort by the Music Booster Home Show Committee, none of the senior marching band students will graduate S.P.H.S. without having the spectacular experience of hosting a home show!”
“I am extremely impressed with the hard work and dedication of the band parents,” said Roxanne Rivera, parent and photographer. “They pulled off a successful event. As for the performances, there were some amazing bands here today in addition to our dedicated S.P.H.S. Marching Band.”
For everything to operate smoothly from the food stands, to ticket sales, and everything in between, volunteers were needed to assist.
“I was so impressed by the number of volunteers we had for the event,” said Jennifer Buchanan, Co-Chair. “We had 90 volunteers and most of them stayed the entire day to help. The Music Booster Home Show Committee worked really hard to make sure everything was set. From start to finish, the home show was an incredible experience.”
Many residents of South Plainfield came out to support the students of the marching band from high school peers to aspiring marching band members.
“I’m here because my 9-year-old fourth grader is excited to be enrolled in band school and his band teacher encouraged him to come out, so his interest in music is what brings me here today,” said Constance Price, South Plainfield resident. “He was excited about coming. This is awesome to watch!”
“As mayor, I think this event is what South Plainfield is all, supporting and encouraging one another,” said Mayor Matthew Anesh. “As a parent, I could not be prouder of my sons for their accomplishments in the S.P.H.S. Marching Band. The entire band spends hours on the field practicing and perform even in inclement weather. They are tireless in the work they do and it shows.”
Performing along with South Plainfield High School were marching bands from: Abraham Clark High School, Central Regional High School, John F. Kennedy Memorial High School (Iselin), Manchester Township High School, Metuchen High School, North Plainfield High School, and Roselle Park High School.
Two senior marching band members from South Plainfield were assigned to each visiting marching band to escort them to the correct areas at the right times.
“Senior students acted as liaisons for the guest bands, proudly leading the bands as they marched to Jost Field,” said Co. “It was incredible to see our students leading the way.”
“It was such a great honor, being able to be a senior and have that responsibility,” said April Nguyen, Senior and member of the Pit. “It was an amazing experience to interact with seven other bands and share their experiences.”
“From a director’s stand point, I thought it was a very well run show and everything ran smoothly,” said Frank Amato, Abraham Clark High School Band Director. “This is Abraham Clark High School’s first ever competition. I chose South Plainfield because it’s local and I know that they have a good band program. The kids were really psyched for it, so we had a fantastic time.”
Just before 1p.m., the S.P.H.S. chorus sang the National Anthem and then each band took their turn on the field with stunning visuals, impressive formations and beautiful music.
“I had this really amazing moment during the event,” said Jay Buchanan, Home Show Committee Co-Chair. “I was standing in the announcer’s booth watching Central Regional High School marching onto the field. After the drum majors gave their salute, the crowd fell silent and the anticipation was thick. I looked out beyond the field and saw Roselle Park High School inching their way into the stadium like a line of ants, quietly turning the corner and hauling with them all their equipment, hard work, dedication, and talents. It so incredible to see it all unfolding under the Frank R. Jost sign from that vantage point! It was underway and it was awesome!”
The final performance was reserved for the S.P.H.S. Tiger Marching Band, under the field direction of drum majors Aleks Slicner, Leisel Co, and Jessenia Moreno and Color Guard Captain Abigail Lapp.
The students marched towards the center of the field where the painted image of a tiger paw print resides, symbolizing the fierce perseverance and strength of South Plainfield. The crowds erupted with applause, standing and cheering for the band.
“Usually as a marching band, we don’t really get as big a response as we did,” said Nygen. “But being able to walk out and have a legitimate crowd cheer for us, excited to see us perform, was really humbling.”
The stadium quieted as students took their places on the field. The echo of great leaders from amplifiers on the field vibrated through the crowds as their choreographed routine unfolded. Flags danced through the air and fingers flew up and down instruments as they performed their show, Another Brick in the Wall, with precision and poise, putting their hearts into the performance of a lifetime.
The marching band raised their fists to the raising their fists to the sky in unison with a sense of empowerment. The crowds jumped to their feet with wild applause proud of the flawless performance of the marching band.
“There is just something truly motivating and inspiring about the Marching Tigers' show,” said Rivera. “It gets better and better with each passing week and gives me goosebumps every time!”
“Having the support of our own town was really awesome,” said Dabul. “It was pretty cool to see everybody come out and cheer like that.”
“I feel like the home show was a really positive experience, especially for the students,” said Emily Niemeyer, Emily Color Guard Instructor. “The guard has been having issues looking up when they perform, but hearing everybody cheering for them and everybody being on their side, they really had an audience to perform for and it gave them the confidence boost that they needed to really take their performance to the next level.”
“It was a great experience and it’s really big for South Plainfield to host this event,” said Lisa Scheidemann, parent. “This is my daughter’s first year in the color guard, and she absolutely loves it. I’m very proud of her. I’ve seen the color guard from the beginning to the very end, and they’ve come a long way. I know they practiced like crazy so you can see where all of that all their hard work has really paid off.”
After South Plainfield’s performance, awards were given to the bands for their achievements. S.P.H.S. Marching Band members presented trophies to their guests and TOB judges tallied scores to be factored into regional placing. Afterward, Haughwout gave the students the good news of their high score.
“Your overall score was an 87.11,” said Haughwout to the students. “Out of 48 bands in our group, that score puts you in third place. With a score like this and three weeks to go, we have a lot of room for growth and a lot of potential to break the mold.”
With state and regional championships on the horizon, there is no telling how far the S.P.H.S. Marching Band will go.
“You have a lot to be proud of,” added Haughwout. “…not just in doing a really great show, but all the comments from the directors and the students were very positive about our home show.”
“The outstanding performance of the entire band earned them their highest score with a leap of several points from their score from the prior week,” said Co.
“Our score was really great and it just feels great,” said Annamanthado. “We worked so hard and to know that our hard work paid off, makes us feel good, and we will carry out throughout the season.”
“The high score was one of the biggest surprises of the day,” said Nguyen. “We definitely didn’t expect to see a score that high, it was a pleasant surprise to say the least.”“It was amazing seeing everyone come together to enjoy one activity that we all are so passionate about,” said Nguyen. “It was one of the best days of the season.”
The day came to an end with pride and a sense of accomplishment. The dedicated members of the S.P.H.S. Marching Band devote themselves to giving each performance everything they have. The coming weeks of championship competitions will showcase their talent, devotion and camaraderie.
Sponsors who helped make the event possible were: 9 Round of South Plainfield, Alumni Students of Joe Tenore, Angelina’s Tavern, Bagel Pantry, Batteries Plus Bulbs, C&M Consulting Group, Jack Pedersen Realty, Halls Trucking, Holiday Inn, Investor’s Bank, M&M Realty, McDonald’s Durham Ave, Mr. Subs, Nexpanse Financial, NJ Guard Training Academy, Retro Fitness of Edison, Rodolfo’s, Rose Brand, SP Summer Drama Workshop, Sportworld, Sukhadia, Sunny Mac Solar (Wayne Decoteau), TAPInto South Plainfield, Elks Lodge 2298, Twin City Pharmacy and Unity Bank.
Many other organizations took part in the home show to help make it a success. Event programs created by Butler Printing Company in South Plainfield and vendors included: 9Round, ID Life and Musically Inclined.
On Saturday, Oct. 19, the S.P.H.S. Marching Band will compete in the New Jersey State Championships at Washington Township High School in Sewell, NJ. They will also compete on Sunday, Oct. 20 in the Region 10 Championships at Union High School in Union, NJ. Their final competition will be on November 2, where they will compete in the Tournament of Bands ACC Championships at Central Dauphin Stadium in Harrisburg, PA. For more information about the high school music program, visit the S.P.H.S. Music Boosters Facebook page.