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The Most Nerve-Racking Week of the Year!

Anyone involved in marching band will tell you that Semi-State week is one of the most nerve-racking, stressful weeks of the entire season. Pressure is high on the students to perform their absolute best and to leave it all out on the field with hopes of advancing to State Finals. This Semi-State week was no different! This week in practices, the students worked hard to clean up trouble areas and to make their strong areas even stronger. Mother Nature decided to add her own hocus pocus last Tuesday with sprinkles that turned to heavier rain and back again. This made for a difficult and soggy practice for the students. Parents were working hard to get fun new decorations hung in the band room, polish shoes, wash uniforms, and get everything ready for the big performance on Saturday. Nerves were high for students, staff, and parents alike. No one quite knew the best way to address State Finals without jinxing the band! Do you say, “When we make State Finals next week” in an effort to be positive, hopeful, confident, and manifest it into reality, or does that jinx the outcome by being too confident or cocky? Conversely, if you say, “IF we make it to State Finals”, does that jinx the outcome by not believing in the students and their hard work? Eeek, no good answer!

Tuesday night was an icky night for practice!

The band practiced under the bleachers to help protect them (a little bit!) from the rain!

The decorating team working hard to integrate "Portals of Arcadia" into the band room!

Saturday morning, October 29th, the Spirit of Woodlan gathered at the school at 7:50am to start their day with practice. Mother Nature again was up to her tricks and brought a very foggy start to the day. The walkway was lined with shiny new paddles for each student with this year’s theme. The band and guard moved practice indoors to the auditeria to make use of their practice time. Eventually, practice was moved outside as the sun burnt off the fog. The semi and trailer were loaded, and the students were quite excited to have two buses this week for their trip to Franklin, IN.

It was a foggy morning!

Portals of Arcadia paddles lined the sidewalk for Semi-State!

Practice was moved inside due to the fog

Eventually, the band headed out to the football field for practice. This photo screams "Look how dedicated these students are!!!" Whether the heat and sweat and sunburn of the summer days, or the cold and wind, rain, fog, or even snow of the fall days, these kids endure and persevere through it all. Wow!

On the drive to Franklin, the students stopped to have their traditional lunch at the rest area outside Gas City. They had a lunch of sub sandwiches, chips, and cupcakes decorated in the theme of Portals of Arcadia. It was amazing to have such a beautiful day for Semi-State, so eating at the rest area was actually pleasant this year!

The buses made their way to Franklin Community High School in Franklin, IN for the ISSMA Open Class D Semi-State Competition. The weather was spectacular with sunny skies, temps in the high 60’s/low 70’s, and very little wind. You could not have asked for better weather! The students got dressed and ready in their uniforms and stopped for final inspections of their uniforms to make sure that everything was in tip-top shape. After warmups, they were ready to take the field for their performance.

The men of the Pit Crew! If you need something done, these guys will make sure to get it taken care of! They make a great team and all work tirelessly for the band.

Pit Crew Moms! These ladies always come through in a pinch, by getting the kids fed every weekend, providing water as they transit, getting them zipped up and plumed up and mirrors polished up and hair done and tucked under hats, and gloves taped, and gauntlets tightened, and band-aids provided, and hugs and high-fives and quick talks for encouragement provided. They all have only one student in band, but on competition days, they are moms to all 50 kids!

Getting warmed up!

Warmed up and ready to go!

The Spirit of Woodlan performed 14th out of the 20 bands in Class D at 4:45pm. The band did a wonderful job and had a great performance. The kids gave it everything they had and most left the field with satisfaction in their individual performances. One student was carried off the field after hurting her knee, one student struggled with asthma and had to catch a ride on a cart back to the buses, and one lost a shoe during the rush to clear the field (pretty sure it was Cinderella?). Weird things like that happen, but the beautiful thing is that the students, staff, and parents of pit crew all pull together as a team and do whatever it takes to make sure the kids are taken care of and the work gets done. There is nothing quite like the teamwork shown by a band family!

After their performance, the trailers were loaded with equipment and the students changed back out of their uniforms. They headed back to the field to watch the remaining few bands, and then gathered together down by the fence to wait for the results. And wait we all did. The students huddled together under blankets and comforted tears of nervousness, anxiety, and sadness for the seniors at their last Semi-State. The tension was high for everyone as we all waited anxiously to find out the fate of all 20 bands. There was a delay in the tabulation of the results, so the wait became dreadfully longer. Emotions were high as the moments ticked on. When the awards ceremony started, I’m fairly sure that we all thought, “Yeah, yeah, yeah” as they handed out participation awards for every band there. Can you please hurry up with those Top-10 results?

The stadium became very quiet with anticipation and anxiety as each band in the top 10 was announced according to order of performance. The silence would be pierced by cheers of each band that was announced as a state finalist, along with quick discussions of what that might mean for the remaining participants. Fingers were held up, counting how many have been announced, while many held their papers and pens to mark down the chosen ones, while others nervously stared at the program and checked on their predictions. Alas, the time had come that Monrovia, who had performed just before us, was announced as a state finalist, and that meant that we were next… please say our name announcer, please say Woodlan!

And then, FINALLY, after what felt like a ginormous pause, he did indeed say, “Woodlan”! That was the last thing that many of us heard, as the hugs and the high-fives began and the tears streamed down many of the students’ faces. We were going to State for the 20th time in Woodlan’s history!!! All the hard work, stress, frustration, and tears had paid off, and the Spirit of Woodlan was officially going to become a 20-time State Finalist!!! The students jumped up and down and celebrated their accomplishment. There was a collective sigh of relief among all the supporters of the Spirit of Woodlan. Whew! They did it!!! The other bands that will join them in competition in Class D are: Pride of Paoli, Orleans Bulldog Regiment, Lewis Cass Marching Kings, Forest Park Marching Rangers, Southridge Marching Raider Band, Monrovia Bulldog Brigade, Springs Valley Blackhawk Brigade, Mater Dei Marching Wildcats, and Adams Central Squadron of Sound.

The students gathered back on their buses and made their way to Cici’s, where they always have dinner together after Semi-State. The staff there was so helpful and made sure they had staffing and stayed open late to accommodate us. The students relaxed and shared their celebratory pizza dinner and conversation with one another. After Cici’s, they got back on the buses and headed home to Woodburn.

After arriving back in Woodburn around 12:30am, the lights on the buses turned on to wake the sleeping students up as they turned off the highway by Love’s Truck Stop, where many parents were waiting to join them and parade them through the streets of Woodburn in celebration. The buses were met with police cars, an ambulance, and a fire truck with full lights and sirens on. The students put their windows down and hung out the windows, cheering and screaming and waving at the parents who had lined the parade route to cheer them on. Woodburn residents came out of their homes to cheer on the buses as they passed by. It was really such a wonderful way for the community to rally around these awesome students. The buses were escorted back to the school around 12:45am for the students to unload the buses and greet their proud parents.

Olivia was one excited and relieved senior who would get the chance to be a State Finalist for her last year in marching band!

State Finals Week has begun!!!! It is a crazy fast-paced week with lots of things in the works to help send these students off to State Finals with the support of the community around them. The Spirit of Woodlan will perform in the ISSMA Open Class D State Finals on Saturday, November 5, 2022 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Open Class D Competition will begin at 4:40pm with Forest Park Marching Rangers. The Spirit of Woodlan will perform at 5:40pm, and the awards ceremony will begin at 7:10pm. Please do anything you can to support these awesome students as they are in the final stretch of their season – this weekend is the culmination of all their hard work since APRIL! These are extraordinary young people that have shown such determination and dedication to one another and have put their hearts, souls, blood, sweat, and tears into this season. I hope to see you all at Lucas Oil this weekend, screaming and shouting and cheering on these fine young people. Borrowing a line from the Director of Bands at Carroll High School, GO HUG A BAND KID!

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