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State Finals, Here We Come!

After the anticipation, stress, and anxiety of Semi-State Week, the band moved full-speed-ahead into State Finals Week! This was a busy week with lots of things to do, but the pressure of making it into the finals had passed. This week, the students practiced hard with a renewed confidence in themselves, knowing that they would compete as one of the Top-Ten bands in the state in our class.

There was a lot of work for the parents to do, as well. This was the week to pull out all the stops on decorating the band room, glittering up the locker decorations, tackling the Finals presale ticket ordering, preparing goody bags for the students, and making sure to plan all the traditional celebrations the students have come to expect and appreciate.

This was made for the band by the 2nd and 3rd graders! How sweet!

Such a nice gesture from fellow State Finalist, Carroll High School Charger Pride

The Portal of Intentions: Students threw CDs written with their intentions for State Finals into the portal.

The Portal Home: Because the band advanced to State Finals, the door was unlocked this week to reveal the State Finals poster.

It is tradition that each student gets an ornament each year in the theme of their show; these doves represent the Portal to Peace.

The band room decorated for Portals of Arcadia

Several band parents provided sub sandwiches for the students on their last Thursday-night practice.

The band worked hard at their final Thursday night practice.

When the students returned to the band room after practice on Thursday night, they enjoyed seeing the final portal lit up.

Locker decorations for the week were a little extra sparkly.

In order to save Ticketmaster fees, the band purchased pre-sale tickets for family members to attend the State Finals. It was quite a tedious task to transfer all the tickets into individual Ticketmaster accounts, but Dani worked hard and got it done!


Saturday morning, November 5, 2022, the skies provided a spectacular sunrise to start State Finals Day! When Mr. Slattery arrived, he said, "Ah, the elves are already hard at work!" It was an early morning for several parents to get the decorations and surprises ready for the day. It was a gorgeous day, but extremely windy and there a was a large chance of rain throughout the day. Parents in the pit crew scrambled to make sure we had enough ponchos for the students, tarps to cover all the equipment, straps to keep the tarps in place, and totes to store all the tarps in if it were to rain on our parade on Saturday. The parents made sure it all got done and we were ready to go!

The final portal to State Finals!

The paddles all set up for the day!

Because it was incredibly windy, practice was moved into the auditeria for the morning.

Emmy and Eleanor Bice made sure Mr. Slattery had Diet Mountain Dew for the day!

Morning practice in the auditeria

The clarinets!

The guard!


After a short practice in the morning, the students loaded their instruments and equipment into the trailers and then got ready to leave for Indianapolis. The students exited the school through the final portal to state finals, where they each were handed a balloon and a Spirit poem. Parents lined the walkway to give them high fives and cheer them on.

The students gathered near the trailer and read the Spirit poem aloud together. This poem was written by a former Spirit of Woodlan member and was presented to the band in October 1994 as they advanced to the State Finals for the first time in Woodlan's history. Several of us band parents share the honor of having been a part of that first band that went to State. It is tradition for the band to read the Spirit poem aloud together just before leaving for State.

At the conclusion of the Spirit poem being read, the students released their balloons into the sky. Next, the senior members of Spirit of Woodlan have the honor of placing the new numbers on the side of the semi indicating another year of being a state finalist.

The senior members!

Mr. Slattery shared a group hug with the seniors.


Just as the balloon release ended, the rain started to come down lightly. The students hurried to grab their goody bags and load the buses. We were so relieved to get their send-off ceremony completed before the rain started!

Goody bags


Another fun tradition on State Finals Day is for the buses to be sent off to Indianapolis with an escort from the fire department. The fire trucks escorted the buses from the parking lot of Woodlan down US 24, to the ramp onto 469. The fire trucks had their lights and sirens on, and many cars pulled over along the way. They block the intersection onto 469, so the buses and parade of parents can travel together onto the highway. It is sweet to see them honking and waving and cheering the students on as they leave for State.


The buses traveled toward Indianapolis and stopped at the Rest Area near mile marker 250 at Gas City. There, the students ate inside the rest area since it was so windy outside. They were served Pizza Hut pizza and breadsticks from Zianos, provided by the Band Boosters. They had sugar cookies made for them by Sarah Gunder (heart shaped, like the Portal Home) as well as portal chocolate and pretzel candies.

In honor of Woodlan's 20th year advancing to State Finals, Apryl Hoot and I wore our "Destination Dome" buttons that were given to us to celebrate our first trip to State Finals in 1994.


After eating at the rest area, the band traveled down to Indianapolis for ISSMA Open Class D State Marching Band Finals at Lucas Oil Stadium. The students arrived first at Area 1 on the north side of the stadium, while the pit crew parents waited for them in the gusty wind on the south side of the stadium where we would unload trailers. Eventually, the students arrived to their unloading area, changed into uniforms, and were ready to compete in State Finals! Lucas Oil Stadium always provides a great backdrop for pictures, so the students made sure to take lots of group shots in front of the stadium.

Pit crew parents waiting for the band's arrival in the super strong winds.

Meanwhile, the students were in Area 1 having fun taking group pictures.

And playing Pokémon, GO with the staff!

Pokémon GO time!

Some of the pit crew moms


The band was finally ready to head indoors to warmup before their performance. With the high likelihood of rain all day long, we were so relieved and grateful to get inside before any rain interfered in our unloading or transit into the building. It was a long and busy week (and season), but the time we had all been waiting for had finally arrived! Time to compete in State Finals!

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