Porter plays patriotic tribute during historic state run
SAN ANTONIO – Just days before the nation paid tribute to its military veterans, New Caney ISD’s Porter High School band performed a patriotic tribute at the Alamodome in San Antonio as one of the top 35 bands in the 2017 University Interscholastic League Class 5A State Championship.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Band Director Brian Best, describing the band’s first performance as a state qualifier Wednesday, Nov. 8. “I’m never going to forget it.
Proud parents and community members shed tears, waved small American flags and stood on their feet to applaud the students who streamed red, white and blue across the field while playing music composed by Aaron Copeland in the show that originally was focused on veterans.
“We are all so proud,” said Mark Hourshad, who came to support his son Joshua Hourshad. “They did a great job.”
At one point in the eight-minute “For Which It Stands” concert, the entire band turned and faced their attention to an American Flag prop, the centerpiece of the show that evolved throughout the season, with their hands over their hearts.
“The show was built around the flag and very quickly became about the flag and what that stands for and what it stands for our country,” Best said. “The music is classical, but it is done in a way that shows patriotism to our country.”
Qualifying for state for the first time in school history was no easy feat.
When Best began directing the band at the high school in 2010, he said there were about 50 students for a band that was still growing and learning and had not yet experienced success.
But Best and the staff believed in order to have the best performance, the students needed the right state of mind, which prompted a hashtag ”#ChampionshipMindset” that appeared on everything, including social media and T-shirts.
The trend ignited the fire that burned motivation into the hearts of the Spartans, who fought their way to state after earning straight division one ratings at the tough Regional IX University Interscholastic League Competition at Woodforest Bank Stadium in October and a redemption, after falling short of qualifying in 2015 by only two spots, at this year’s area competition where they placed fourth out of more than 35 bands, taking the ticket to state.
“We talked about what it meant to be champions, not to win or lose, but just what the championship mind-set was,” Best said. ”… We had to start from scratch for years to finally get to this point. That’s how we got here, just over years of just teaching the kids not only how to play their instruments, but also how to play their instruments and to march at a very competitive and very high level.”
During the state run, in late August the 181-member band overcame losing at least a week of practice after Hurricane Harvey hit the area with more than 60 inches of rainfall that displaced 281 students in the school district.
“It means a lot,” senior drum major Cody Mussett said. “It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work. I was in the band four years ago when we were getting second division ratings. Seeing the growth, and the band becoming so good, to finally see us realizing our dream of being in the Alamodome is so exciting. It’s so cool to be here. It’s such a great experience to perform in this dome and to be in this city - it’s amazing.”
While the band did not move on to the finals, Mussett felt the patriotic performance showed the community support for American and brought people together after Harvey.
“I think it is a good idea to send a strong message of togetherness in uniting people in this hard time that we had to face,” he said.
More than 125 eight-minute concerts were performed over three days by 10,000 student participants from about 253 Class 5A schools, 194 Class 3A schools, 139 Class 2A schools and 33 Class A schools. The alternating competition will invite 4A and 6A schools next year.
2017 UIL State Marching Band Competition Results:
1A Champion – Whiteface
2A Champion – Clarksville
3A Champion – Mineola
5A Champion – Cedar Park
For more information, visit porterspartanband.org.