Using history and celebration from a local battleship docked at the seaport of Wilmington, Hobbton High School’s marching band had another award-winning season.
Hobbton’s show, titled “BB-55, North Carolina Showboat,” was in honor of the USS North Carolina, which was the fourth warship in the U.S. Navy to be named in honor of the state. It was the first newly-constructed ship used for service during WWII. With 15 battle stars, the ship participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific area of operations.
For the 2015 season, the band received many awards. The band received a grand champion award during the Topsail High School Pirate Classic in Hampstead and the Stallion Classic at South Columbus High School, in addition to receiving the top award for the 2A class, which is based on student population. At Triton High School’s “Havoc in the Hawks Nest” in Erwin, Hobbton earned first placed in the 2A. During a competition at Lee County High School, the band earned second place.
It’s not the first time the school received big awards at shows. But Geoffrey Tart, band director, said it was a big accomplishment considering the fact that there’s only one senior this year.
“Overall, it was a young group,” Tart said about the 61 students in the band. “When it started, I saw a lot of potential.”
As the lone senior, Nathan Gavin, said it was a lot of responsibility being the most experienced member of the band.
“I’m the one they have to look up to as an example,” Gavin said.
During his other three years, Gavin played the baritone and for his last year with the band, he played tuba. After graduating from Hobbton, Gavin plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Junior Madison Warren, drum major, said it’ll be a season she’ll always remember.
“It was very heartwarming,” Warren said about shows that his close to home.
To prepare, she attended a leadership conference at Western Carolina University, which helped her during the season.
“Band teaches you so much that nothing else can,” Warren said about leadership and responsibility.”Your band family is like no other. It’s different than your sports families. You can come here and be one. That’s our motto, ‘one band, one sound.’”
Tart said the students wanted to succeed and overcame a rocky start, due to weather conditions. He was also concerned about how the show would start.
“But the students did not let that effect them,” he said. “The students worked very hard and were very flexible. They proved that they wanted to do well and be successful this year.”
He said the battleship museum is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary. The idea came about when eating dinner with his parents Harvey and Frankie Tart. As a child, his mother remembered having to bring pennies to bring the battle ship home to North Carolina. His mother’s story carried over to the band’s color guard using gigantic one-cent coins as props.
“The students were intrigued,” Tart said. “They thought that was interesting.”
But that’s not all, a large picture of the battleship, was used in the performance with the assistance of parents. The color guard also wore sailor uniforms. Music from the show was related to the battleship period music and songs related to patriotism when it was being used. The first portion of the show feature on the purpose and other parts of the performance included Big Band Era and Patriotic Ballad of Thanks. The final movement was No Gift Too Small.
Matthew Parunak served as the music arranger and the drill was organized by John Lowe of Clinton. The color guard designer was Aleisha Pittman and additional assistance was provided by Cameron Brewer. Zack Marshall helped percussionists.
The work for the musicians also included studying the battleship and receiving help from history teachers. Rehearsal began during the last week of school. After the summer break practice resumed when school started and continued throughout September. Contests began in October. Tart said the students dealt with strenuous schedules and juggled other activities such as sports, cheerleading and theatre.
“They’re very active,” he said . “It makes a better well rounded student.”
Currently, the band is preparing for upcoming parades and Christmas concerts. Next semester, the students will prepare for the state’s Music Performance Assessment, which will take place in March.
Tart said he like to put a lot of emphasis on leadership.
“I tell the students that this is their organization and this is their band,” he said. “They are the ones that have to take ownership. I can give them the tools and direct it, but when it comes down to it, they’re the performers and it’s their band.”
The students were excited about the show and some even discovered family connections with the ship or WWII.
“Some had relatives that worked on the ship,” Tart said. “It was just not a show, it was something that the students were starting to take ownership in. It was more than just music on a page and learning steps.”
Sophomore Madison DeLaney Thornton said her great uncle served in WWII and helped the United States after the Attack on Pearl Harbor. After learning about some family history, the show had more meaning to her.
“I felt a wave of emotions,” Thornton said. “It was different. When I performed it for our Veterans Day performance, I started crying. I couldn’t help it.”
Like her fellow bandmates, the vibraphone player enjoys learning about leadership through the organization.
“Most of all, I learned how to deal with not getting what I want,” she said. “When you go out on the band field you want grand champion or that band of the day award. Sometimes you don’t get it and that’s OK. You learn from your mistakes.”
But overall, Thornton and other band members were pleased with the hardware they took home and honoring the military in the process.
“I think it was very successful,” Thornton said. “I can’t wait to next year.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.