The Pride of Metuchen High School Marching Band ended the 2015 competitive season with the High School's first ever national championship. The MHS Marching Band competing in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania against schools from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey won the Tournament of Bands Group 3A Atlantic Coast Championships. The MHS Marching Band received first place with an outstanding score of 94.01 including awards for High Music, High Visual, Best Drum Line, and Best Color Guard. The win means a promotion for the Band from A Class to Open Class (expert class) for the upcoming season.
MHS Director of Bands John Messenger said, "These young men and women have worked a tireless amount of hours preparing for our competitive field show. We began in June and have practiced for months to prepare for this one moment. The countless hours and sacrifice the students made is truly remarkable. I could not be any prouder of these students. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. They rose to the challenge, and they made me and every resident of Metuchen proud. I could not think of a more deserving group of kids. They committed themselves to the concept that we perform with
excellence every time we entered the field and the result was an amazing field show each and every week.
The winning band was greeted with a Metuchen Police escort and cheering crowds at Metuchen High School on their return from Pennsylvania. Senior Drum Major Viktor Lacson said, "It was amazing to see how far the support for our band has come since my freshman year. I know that we continue to exceed the expectations our community has set for us and I can't wait to see what the band will achieve in the future." Senior Color Guard Captain Zoe Vardaro said, "Being a part of this marching band is being part of a family. The achievements mean so much more because I got to do it alongside my best friends." Senior Drum Captain Matt Westreich said, "I couldn't be prouder to march with the best drum line on the East Coast!"
The Color Guard finished with High Color Guard at the Atlantic Coast Championships and in the top 10 at Grand National Championships at MetLife. The Drum Line finished with High Percussion at Atlantic Coast Championships with a school record of 98.0.
Metuchen High School is unusual in that it allows students to be in both Marching Band and athletics or theater in the fall season. That's why MHS Marching Band with 83 students out of a student body of 600-plus students has such a large marching band for its size and competes against high schools with much larger student populations.
This year's show titled "A Day in the Life" was a musical journey through one's day and featured the music of Gershwin, Mackey, and Adams. The design team consisted of: Music arranger Ben Schwartz, Drill design by Izzy Delgado, Color Guard design by Debbie Yaniga, Percussion design by Sean Sullivan with additional percussion instruction by Samara Gomez and Jason Gomez. Additional Color Guard instruction by Lisa Allgauer, and additional visual instruction by Scott Sellis.
Mr. Messenger said, "I have never measured success with scores and trophies and this season is no exception. My kids work extremely hard every year both on the field and in the classroom. I measure success by how many kids lives have been changed by being part of this band. I see that success with every email from alumni in the fall that tell me how much they miss the band and how they are having fun playing with their college bands. These students are the best of the best that Metuchen Schools can offer. They carry 12+ AP Class credits, play sports, are in theater, are Eagle Scouts, volunteer outside of school and go on to Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, MIT, and Stanford University to name a few. That is where the real success of the program is. We are very lucky to have a supportive administration, a hard working supervisor in Mrs. Christine De Simone, and a principal, Mr. Bruce Peragallo, who came every Monday to thank and congratulate the students for successful weekends. That being said, it is nice to be recognized by Tournament of Bands and I thank them for giving us a place to compete. This year will not soon be forgotten and I am excited to connect again with my amazing staff, start planning with incredible parents, and start working again with the best group of kids a director could ever ask for. The sky is the limit for the Pride of Metuchen.