South Plainfield Marching Band Wins First Place at Regionals


SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ  - The South Plainfield High School Marching Band took first place in the Tournament of Bands 2017 Region 10 Championship Competition on October 22nd at West Essex High School in North Caldwell, NJ.  In addition to winning the competition with a high score of 90.575 and earning the title of New York Metropolitan Regional Champions, the Marching Band took home trophies for Best Visual and Best Music.

“They did an amazing job,” said Band Director William Haughwout.  “They felt good coming off of the field and that’s what matters.  I think the combination of the right kind of nerves and the right amount of excitement resulted in an incredible performance.”

“This is the first time this has happened in all four years that I have been here,” said Co-Drum Major Ryan Berardi. “I’m so happy!  We all worked really hard and it turned out in our favor big time.”

Sign Up for E-News

Not only did South Plainfield Marching Band win the Tournament of Bands Region 10 Championship Competition, but their score of 90.575 placed them at number three out of thirty-four marching bands entering from nine states in the Tournament of Bands (TOB) Category 2-A overall competition.  This is the first year that South Plainfield has competed in Tournament of Bands, a nonprofit educational organization that provides competitive arenas for hundreds of marching bands from September through November each year. 

“This last competition was unreal for me,” said Tracy Sesta, Band Parent of Senior twins.  “The season went so fast.  I was so happy that the seniors and our Marching Band ended the season with the biggest win and highest score of all season.”

The members of the South Plainfield Marching Band were already on the practice field as the sun rose over Spring Lake Park in the wee hours of the morning on October 22nd.  Their dew soaked feet repeated the motions of the performance they had practiced and performed since mid-August.  It all came down to this day, the long awaited final competition of the Tournament of Bands Region 10 Championships.

“These kids are here literally all day from the moment they walk into school to practice right after school, to the football games, to the three hour long practices on weekends,” said Band Parent Kelly Bosse.  “It is something that’s very demanding on the kids, on their bodies, and to keep their school work up.  My daughter is on the Color Guard and suffered a concussion earlier in the season when a flag fell on her head.  It comes with the risk and she says to me all of the time, she would do it again. She loves Marching Band.  She loves Color Guard.”

“I just can’t help but to stress the teamwork and dedication that they all put into each practice, performance and in trying to help each other to be the best they can,” said Band Parent Gina McConville.  “Hard work really pays off and I’m so proud of them all.”

“After hours and days, weeks and months, the Show becomes alive and evolves,” said Band Parent and Pit Crew Volunteer Keith Slicner.  “There’s nothing to it, once you know the trick, but practice and hard work, over and over and over. And when they're done with that, they do it again, and again, and again. That's where that magic lives.”

Parent volunteers comprise the Pit Crew, who also arrived early on the morning of the October 22nd competition to meticulously pack the Marching Band trailer with instruments, equipment, platforms, tables, chimes, bass drums, the Marching Band golf cart and all of the miscellaneous essentials that make the performance complete.  Other groups of band parents congregated inside the band room to organize uniforms, food, flags, medical kits and everything else that needs to come with the students for a long day of competition.  Preparation is crucial, according to these band parents.

After three hours on the practice field, the Marching Band took a break to devour the huge spread of breakfast foods provided by the Band Parent “Meals on Wheels” team, who organize the preparation and donation of foods to give the teenagers a substantial meal to last them the day. 

“What the casual observer of the show also doesn’t see is the hidden helpers who march the invisible dots,” added Slicner.  “The Hidden Helpers are normal, everyday people with a vested interest in making The Show come alive.  Heavy and fragile things need to be moved, near and far. Things break and need to be fixed. The Students need to eat. Uniforms and costumes need to be clean. Funds need to be raised. Countless little things need to be done and The Hidden Helpers don't ask questions, they simply do what is required of them. In that display of selfless endeavor, there the magic lives.”

Soon it was time to board the buses.  The band room came alive with the flutter of activity as uniforms were adjusted, hat boxes were distributed, and instruments were packed. There was a buzz of nervous excitement that vibrated through the air as the students took their seats and the engines of three South Plainfield Board of Education buses roared in unison, rolling out of the parking lot.

“The students were very excited,” said Assistant Band Director Sean Ferguson commenting on the emotions of the students as they were driven to their final performance of the competition season.  “They were super pumped to start performing.  I was excited.  We were all anxious and just wanted to get off the bus and get ready to do this.”

By performance time, the nerves had calmed and the Marching Band was ready.  As the familiar tap of the drums sounded, the band took their places on the football field before judges and packed stands of onlookers to perform their show, “Angels and Demons,” for the last time in competition.

“Drum majors, is your band ready?” The voice of the announcer echoed over the loud speaker.  In response, Co-Drum Majors Ryan Berardi and Brian Sesta saluted and marched to the platform that stood on the sidelines before the football field.  Lifting their batons, they signaled the performance to begin.  With that, the long hours of practice, injuries, soreness and anxiety, were a thing of the past and the South Plainfield Marching Band performed like they have never performed before, according to band parents who have watched the band from the start of the season.

“I knew it was my kids’ last competition and thought I would have to fight back a little tear,” said Tracy Sesta.  “I was so proud of them and sad they were ending something that brought them so much pride and fun during their high school career.  Anyway, seeing the joy and excitement from everyone left no room for tears.” 

The crowd applauded wildly as the Marching Band shifted formations while playing their instruments with seemingly flawless precision and covering the length of the football field and back. The Color Guard unfolded their golden angel wings, twirled huge decorative flags, and tossed gun props high into the air.  As the performance came to a close, Senior Kyle Kelly lifted his trumpet to end the performance with a climactic close.

“To hit the last note, it feels as if time just stops,” said Kyle Kelly reflecting on the finale of the show.  “And for those few moments, everything in the world is just right.”

And all was right with the world for South Plainfield as hours later, after all of the entries for Marching Band in Region 10 in the West Essex Competition had performed, Co-Drum Majors Ryan Berardi and Brian Sesta along with Color Guard Captains Jennifer Christilles and Lindsay Benko, and Senior students of the Marching Band who joined them for moral support, waited on the field for the awards and trophies to be distributed in the closing ceremony.

Beginning with Sixth place in Category 2-A, each band was announced until they were down to two, and South Plainfield had not yet heard their name bellowed over the loud speaker.

“The moment I knew we won championships was intense,” said Co-Drum Major Brian Sesta.  “We heard them announce the second place and best percussion awards and all of our heartbeats paused. It was terrifying. But then we heard another school’s name. It was one of the greatest feelings. I saw it in the faces of every senior standing beside me. It was the look that we have finally made it. Four seasons of dedication and determination have paid off.  We had finally succeeded in becoming champions.”

The crowd was quiet as all awaited the First Place Marching Band to be officially announced. 

“First place, with a score 90.575 and receiving the awards for Best Visual and Best Music goes to,” the announcer paused and with loud enthusiasm revealed the name of the winning school.  “South Plainfield High School!”

“When I heard the Second Place winner was best percussion, I thought that was us because we usually win for that, but it wasn’t!”  said Freshman Caitlin McConville.  “When they announced S.P. for first place I was like “YESSSS”!  I really found a family in Marching Band!” 

“It’s a really great way for us to end the year,” added Co-Drum Major Berardi.  “Us seniors, we’re on our third band director in four years, and so the third one was our savior.  We’re a lot harder working and a lot more focused.  When they announced second place with best percussion and auxiliary, my heart dropped a little bit and then after I heard it wasn’t us, I was beyond happy, I was almost about to scream.  We have to stay straight faced.”

“It’s just a great way to go out for the seniors and it’s great for the freshman that came in.” said Nina Rohrer.  “This is great.  Just the way every band cheers for each other.   They respect each other.”

“I’ve been waiting four years for this.  It’s very exciting,” said Senior Isabella Ardito.  “I’m extremely happy.”

“This was our first championship since I can remember,” said Band Parent and Volunteer Drumline Instructor Scott Carey.  “We heard cheers, saw tears and spent a long time enjoying it.  It was kind of funny.  All the other bands (even other chapter winners) had left the stadium.  S.P. was the only one left, still hugging, taking pictures and exchanging high-fives.”

On the way home, as the buses entered South Plainfield, they were greeted by the flashing lights of the South Plainfield Police Department.  Chief James Parker arranged for a police escort through town and Officer Mike Alvarez played the Marching Band’s Performance music through the speaker of his police car as he led the victors to the high school, where they were met by family, friends and supporters honking horns and welcoming the champions back from an amazing adventure.

“The kids really enjoyed their homecoming reception when they crossed the border into S.P.,” said Carey.  “The South Plainfield Police Department provided an escort and the kids were greeted by cheering parents, car horns and flashing headlights when they returned to South Plainfield High School.”

“Seeing all of the hard work that the kids, parents, Pit Crew, the Meals on Wheels moms, and the Friday staff, just seeing everyone pull together for the kids and to see such a big win like this is just, I cannot even put it into words,”  added Bosse.  “I’m just so excited for all of the kids, I really am.  It’s just awesome.  It’s gonna make me cry.  It’s happy tears though.”

“Like all of the parent volunteers, it just felt great to be a part of it,” added Carey.  “The kids will never forget this and I'm thrilled that we could help get to this point.  The kids deserved it.  I couldn't have been happier for them and the entire band.  I include all the parent helpers and boosters.  They worked hard - not just this year, but for many years.”  

“This is a very exciting time for them and I’m truly personally overwhelmed with the Championship win, but it’s well deserved,” added McConville.  “They showed incredible teamwork and together look what they accomplished. I’m sure it was difficult at times but this is a team like no other. The kids dedication to perfecting their performance and helping other band members is truly amazing! I have the goosies! My goosies may never go away!”

“I think they did phenomenal,” concluded Ferguson.  “I think they did an awesome job and I’m very proud of them.  They deserve it all, so I’m very proud.”

The South Plainfield Marching Band will have their final football game performance at the annual Thanksgiving Day Football game, where rivals North Plainfield and South Plainfield will play at 10:30am at North Plainfield High School located at 34 Wilson Ave, North Plainfield, NJ 07060.  The Marching Band will perform as the pre-game show starting at 10:15am.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

The Athlete of the Week Christopher Shine Baseball

The South Plainfield High School baseball team is continuing to have a successful 2018 season with a record of 15-9. This past week, the Tigers went 4-0 beating out of conference foes North Hunterdon, Montgomery, and Bernards.  They finished the week with a win in the first round of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, over Carteret.   A major contributor to South ...

The Athlete of the Week: Jillian Holoboski Softball Pitcher

The South Plainfield Softball Team had an exciting week of action where the team saw Coach Panzarella break the all-time win total in NJ. The Lady Tigers got things rolling by defeating John F. Kennedy 3-2 on Monday.  South Plainfield then traveled to Perth Amboy for a night double header and crushed the Panthers 14-0.  On Wednesday they beat Colonia 5-1. The competition for the week ...

Holy Savior Cheerleading Squad Takes Season by 'Storm'

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy’s (HSA) ‘Biddy’ Cheerleading Squad, the Storm,  recently completed their 2017-2018 season with a first place win in their division at Cheerfest. Held May 12 at Six Flags Great Adventure, the annual multi-state competition featured teams from throughout New Jersey. 

“This cheer season has been such an ...


Mario Guido Abbruzzese, 70, died on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at St. Peter’s University ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

Recreation Commission President Responds to Council Candidate Keefe

May 18, 2018

My name is Bill Cochrane and I am President of the South Plainfield Recreation Commission. A press release from Borough Council Candidate Kristine Keefe has recently come to our attention. In her press release Ms. Keefe states and I quote “Over the last eight years virtually nothing has been done to improve our parks and recreation program.” When this was brought to our attention at ...

Colin Berry and Cody Decker Earn Bachelor Degrees from Rowan University

May 18, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Colin Berry and Cody Decker, both of South Plainfield, received Bachelor degrees from Rowan University last week during commencement exercises.  Both young men are 2014 graduates of South Plainfield High School.  


Berry earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Marketing and was awarded to the Deans List for the fifth time.  He served as ...

Community Happenings


May 12, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - On Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 11AM to 5PM, the John E. Riley PTSO (JER PTSO) will be hosting its first ever Food Truck Festival!


Come out for a good time while supporting a good cause! Proceeds from this event will go to replacing the 2 broken playground structures at John E. Riley Elementary School costing approximately $80,000. 11+ food trucks including ...

Holy Savior Cheerleading Squad Takes Season by 'Storm'

May 21, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy’s (HSA) ‘Biddy’ Cheerleading Squad, the Storm,  recently completed their 2017-2018 season with a first place win in their division at Cheerfest. Held May 12 at Six Flags Great Adventure, the annual multi-state competition featured teams from throughout New Jersey. 

“This cheer season has been such an ...

Holy Savior Academy to Hold 7th Annual 5K Run & Family Walk in June

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Calling all runners and walkers! Holy Savior Academy will hold its 7th Annual 5K Run and 1 Mile Family Walk on Saturday, June 2. Proceeds from this year’s family-friendly event will benefit the school’s academic, athletic, and extracurricular programs.

“Holy Savior Academy’s annual 5K offers the school an opportunity to provide other ...

The South Plainfield "Autism Awareness" Event

May 8, 2018

The South Plainfield Mayor’s Wellness Committee and the South Plainfield Public Library in conjunction with community volunteers hosted the Borough’s first Autism Awareness event at the South Plainfield Public Library on Sunday April 29, 2018 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. This “Afternoon of Awareness” was designed to help connect parents with important resources in order to help ...

Plainfield Animal Hospital

On Friday, April 20th, 2018, a South Plainfield resident responded to South Plainfield Police Department to report a fraudulent incident which occurred at Plainfield Animal Hospital, located at 2201 Park Ave, South Plainfield, NJ.  According to the victim, on April 4th, 2018, she and her husband brought their   family pet rabbit to the animal hospital to be euthanized due to the ...

Staying Fit at the Senior Center

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Staying fit and getting plenty of good exercise is a high priority at the South Plainfield Senior Center, located at 90 Maple Avenue in South Plainfield. Classes on health issues and a wide range of physical exercise are available almost daily.

The Walking Group meets every Friday, weather permitting, starting on May 18 and going through October. Participants meet at the ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, May 22, 6:00 PM

South Plainfield

South Plainfield Soccer Association Travel Team ...


Tue, May 22, 6:30 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Sugar Land Skeeters ...

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Sports


Wed, May 23, 6:00 PM

South Plainfield

South Plainfield Soccer Association Travel Team ...


Wed, May 23, 6:30 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Sugar Land Skeeters ...

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Sports


Thu, May 24, 11:00 AM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Sugar Land Skeeters ...

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Sports

Wed, May 30, 6:00 PM

South Plainfield Public Library, South Plainfield

Town-Wide Girl Scout Registration


Diegnan & Ruiz Bill to Establish Grant Program to Develop Dual Language Immersion Programs Advances

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. and Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz to establish a grant program for school districts and charter schools to develop dual language immersion programs was released from the Senate Education Committee today.


“The best way for a student to excel in a foreign language is an immersion program,” said ...

South Plainfield Motor Vehicle Office Tentatively Scheduled to Open May 21st

Dear Mayor:

I would like to provide you with an update regarding the Motor Vehicle Commission’s (MVC) new, modernized South Plainfield Agency.  At this juncture, if we receive the Certificate of Occupancy on Friday, May 11, as expected, the anticipated “soft opening” to the public will be Monday, May 21, 2018. 

We will schedule a ceremonial ribbon cutting shortly ...

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...


And here is (ACHOO!!) some more (ACHOO!!) news from (COUGH!!) South Plainfield Library:

            First, our previously-postponed Holi program, celebrating the Indian festival of colors, has been postponed again.  Due to predicted inclement weather, it has been rescheduled to Saturday, July 21st, from 11AM to 1PM.  Let’s ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join

I joined in September, ...

Suburban Woman’s Club Welcomes You

The Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield is welcoming new members. Enjoy creative fund raisers, interesting activities while participating on standing committees, informative monthly programs, and the camaraderie of women whose efforts enhance the community. The club meets at 1:00 PM on the first Thursday of each month, September through June, at the American ...

Suburban Woman’s Club Has A Successful Fundraising Year!

After what can easily be described as a successful fund-raising year, The Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield met on May 3rd at the American Legion Hall in South Plainfield to decide how to allocate the funds that were raised.  President Diana Cotone called the meeting to order and thanked April Bengivenga and Joyce Dieterle for the delicious refreshments provided.

The ...

Press Releases

Middle School Music Department wins 17 Trophies at the Showcase Music Festival

May 21, 2018

On Friday, May 11, members of the South Plainfield Middle School Music Department participated in the 2018 Music Showcase Festival.  The students performed exceptionally well and brought home 17 awards.  At this festival, the musical ensembles played for adjudication at the First Presbyterian Church and Bethlehem Catholic High School in Bethlehem, PA and then spent the rest of the day ...