Philip Simmons High School’s inaugural marching band earns state honors

In the summer of 2018, Philip Simmons High School’s first marching band finally found all of its members. Most of them were new to marching and many of them were new to music, having just completed their first band camp that summer. Despite those early limitations, the PSHS marching band returned from their first set of competitions largely successful.

“Our first year out, we came in fifth overall in the whole state,” said PSHS Band Director Leslie Phillips. “We got a superior rating, which was my ultimate goal.”

“Our show is called ‘dreams’ for a reason,” she added, referring to the band’s musical theme for the year.

While it may come as a surprise to those who looked in from the outside, Phillips claimed that the band’s placement was expected.

“I hoped to be placed between fifth and eighth, and we did,” she said. “But, that’s based on my experience as a designer. If you design the right show, the vehicle can take them a good ways.”

The high mark for the nascent band is great for morale, as the band director notes.

“It should be good for recruiting and general happiness in the program,” Phillips said. “The parents are supportive. They were real happy with our results.”

“I did not expect fifth in state, for sure,” said PSHS Marching Band Booster Club member and band parent Carol Braswell. “But, knowing how dedicated the kids were and how excited they were, I knew that, if nothing else, their passion would show out on the field. I wasn’t completely shocked, but when you step back and look at where they came from, it is pretty amazing.”

According to Phillips, the students in the band couldn’t be more excited about the trophy that now sits in the high school band room.

“They still play the show every day!” she laughed.

“They have grown so much as a group and as a family,” added Braswell about the students. “None of us knew what a band parent meant, but we definitely know what that means now. We had so many parents volunteer and it was nice to have the school community come together as a family through band.”

The competitions for the year are over, but Phillips is already looking forward to next year.

“We’ll go with a little stronger show from a design standpoint, because now I know what they can do,” she said.

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