The Cherry Hill West Marching Band won the Region 1 Championships in group 2A at Eastern Regional High School on Oct. 22 with its highest score this season.
The group earned an 89.2 out of 100 and also won best music, best winds and best percussion. Competitors are rated in a number of categories, including visuals.
The band is in a transitional year: It is Ryan Sagedy’s first season as director and the color guard is now led by new instructor Mackenzie Roos. But the group improved on its score from the last Region 1 competition, where it scored and 82. Percussion and drills are led by Christopher Miller, who teaches instrumental music at two township elementary schools and is the founder of CM Drill Design.
For those who have never seen the band perform, Sagedy described it as similar to theater.
“Here at West, theater’s a really big thing, and they do all these big sets and they get to play a role on stage for everybody to see,” he explained. “And it involves hundreds of people and stuff. Marching band is like the same thing, but a different medium.”
To prepare for their performances, the band held summer rehearsals and camp for two weeks.
“There’s a lot of aspects that go into it,” Sagedy noted. “There’s music obviously, there’s the drill and how we move into the different shapes on the field, and the kids in the field know how to get there. There’s the color guards – they have their drill stuff and also the flag work that they do. And then there’s the actual part of marching, which is something that has to be taught, too.”
A total of 47 students participated in the band, 30 as instrumentalists and 17 as color guard members. This year’s two drum majors – student leaders who help the band get ready and assist the band instructor – were West senior Gabriela Creighton and junior Julian Dappolone.
Both have been involved in the group since eighth grade, the earliest year students can join, and grew up hearing about the experience at West. Dappalone and Creighton both joined during the pandemic and they’ve loved it every step of the way since.
“I think the season has been going really well,” noted Dappalone, who plays the alto sax. “We are in a transition period having two new instructors, so it was definitely off to a bit of a rocky start, and we had to figure everything out and get into this new kind of chemistry in the band.
“It was scary at first, but I think we’ve come a long long way to winning champs – twice now.”
“Being in the band for almost five years as a senior, it’s crazy to see my personal growth and the growth of the band for five years, and to have a band champ back to back is incredible,” Creighton said.
” … It’s clear that everyone wants to do well,” she added. “Everyone puts in hard work to make this show good. I just love the group I’m surrounded by.”
The show featured solos from the following students: Nathaniel Goldwasser on flute, Matthew Douglass on alto sax, Zachary Lipko on tenor sax, Olivia Madison on clarinet, Benjamin Hess on trombone and Andrew Hughes on trumpet.
The championship win enabled the band to advance to state championships against 11 other bands at Toms River East High School on Oct. 28. The full performance can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVg9rsz8uZ8.