LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
For the first time in five years, the North Laurel High School Marching Band will advance to state, having placed eighth in the 5A east regional quarter finals at Mt. Sterling Saturday.
“This is one of the toughest regions,” said band director David McFadden. “Four out of the top eight were Lexington schools. We are the only one from this part of the state to make the top eight.”
The 93-member band competed against 12 bands at Mt. Sterling and secured themselves a spot at state semi-finals in Bowling Green this weekend.McFadden has high hopes for his band at Western Kentucky University on Oct. 27.
“I’d like to finish in the top 10,” he said. The highest NLHS band has ever placed at state was 12th in 1995.
This season’s performance is entitled "Renewal," with music from the Russian ballet "The Rite of Spring" by Igor Stravinsky. It was a difficult piece to learn, said McFadden, but band members proved they could shine just a week into band camp this summer.
“Toward the end of the first week of band camp, it started clicking,” he said. “They’ve just been on fire.”
The NLHS band is relatively young this year. With only 11 seniors, the band has shown hard work pays off. They were named reserve grand champions at three out of four local contests they have participated in.
“It’s a good group of kids this year,” McFadden said. “They are just in shock. We weren’t expecting it (state).”
McFadden credits an experienced band camp staff this year, as well as a supportive group of band parents.
“We had a really good band camp staff, and we’ve never had this much parent support,” he said. “Hopefully, we can build from this next year.”
In addition, McFadden praised the Laurel County Board of Education who, in a time when other school districts are cutting arts programs, made an investment in all four district band programs.
Bands at North Laurel High, North Laurel Middle, South Laurel High and South Laurel Middle received new instruments thanks to the funding provided by the school board, as well as new uniforms for both high school bands this year.
“All four are awesome band programs,” McFadden said. “The school board made a big investment and it’s really made a difference.”
The community is invited to a send-off performance on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on the school football field. All are welcome to attend.