Mountaineers Marching Band Takes Nationals

By: J.L. Shively

The West Orange High School Mountaineers Marching Band began planning their season in Jan. with an official kick-off in Aug. when the whole band went to camp.

Over the summer, band members committed to rehearsing once a week and when school started they ramped up to holding practice on Tues. and Thurs. throughout the fall.

“Once the school year started we performed our field show at all home varsity football games,” states Lewis Kelly, band director.

The team also geared up for the National Championships with eight other competitions that were held throughout the fall.

All of the band’s hard work and practice was leading up to a large performance held at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown, Pa., on Sun., Nov. 6.

With around 100 members and about 25 graduating seniors, this moment was a huge moment in the high school career of West Orange Marching Band members.

The band’s field show was titled “Defying Gravity” and featured the pieces, “To Tame the Perilous Skies” by David Holsinger, “Diamonds” as performed by Rihanna and “Defying Gravity” from the musical “Wicked,” explains Kelly.

After their performance at the championships, the Mountaineers came home as USBands Group 5A National Champions.

“They were very excited,” states Kelly, regarding the band’s performance and its placement.

According to the West Orange Public Schools website the Marching Mountaineers placed with the outstanding score of 96.693 and also received “top honors for best music, best visual, best overall effect and best percussion.”

The National Championships held by the USBands organization is, according to the website, “the largest competitive circuit in the nation.”

Kelly has been the band director with West Orange High School for 17 years and has proudly watched bands march through the school winning many other titles.

“The band has also won numerous state championships in the past,” says Kelly.

Before USBands named the event to be “National Championships” it was called “All-States Championships” and Kelly and his marching band won that award then.

“We travel to National Championships when it works in our schedule,” explains Kelly, and with so many members it certainly is a trip that needs much coordination.

After coming home National Champions Kelly reflects on the bands season.

“It’s a great thing for this year’s band, but all of our groups have a long tradition of excellence,” he says. “The marching band, color guard, drum line, concert bands and jazz bands all are terrific every year.  This year the band was recognized for it, it was a very cool thing.”

The marching band’s season is done but it is not the end of music at West Orange High School; all the other groups such as the jazz band and concert band have performances coming up soon.

“I thought the band did a terrific job this year,” he says. “They worked hard all season and really won a well-deserved honor.”

For more information about USBand competitions visit the website at


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