John Slowensky said he did something this year that he always wanted to do for the Rolla High School Marching Band.
"My wife and I—we're a team, she does the color guard—always wanted a patriotic show," Slowensky said.
They wanted something special, and they told each other, "It can't be cheesy."
After years of talking about it, they decided, "Let's just do it," Slowensky said.
"We picked out the music, and we got a drill guy to write the drill," he said.
The drill designer charts the movements of the musicians and the color guard to the selected music to fit the mood, the atmosphere, the emotion of the show.
"Journey to Freedom" is the title of this year's show, and it mixes innovation and tradition to convey in music and movement the American spirit to the audience.
There's music, of course, performed by the band and taped narration in the form of quotations from presidents. And this is the first year in a long time, Slowensky said, that the drill includes the spelling out of words.
"Freedom" and "America" and the American flag are formed by the marching musicians and color guard.
It's competition season for marching band, and the Rolla band performed in their first contest this past Saturday at Lafayette High School in Wildwood.
Coming up this Saturday is a contest at Washington, Mo.
On Oct. 19, the band will host its own Route 66 Marching Band Festival. Thirteen bands will be in town that day, performing from 2 p.m. until 7 or 8 p.m. The festival is open to the public. Admission is $7 per person ($5 for students and anyone 65 or older, free for anyone 5 or under).
On Oct. 26, the band will go to Francis Howell High School.
Judging is based on several criteria. In addition to the ranking of the band with the other schools, separate rankings for the percussion section and the color guard are given.
The marching band has 183 members, including the color guard. They began rehearsing the show in the heat of the third week of July.
The band has performed "Journey to Freedom" at halftime of home football games, and there will be two more chances for the community to see the show on Oct. 11 and Oct. 25.
The audience at the recent MIA/POW memorial service at Veterans Memorial Park saw the show.
The pace for the band will not slow down after the marching band competition season.
Slowensky said All-District auditions will be held in November and All-State auditions will be held in January.
The band will transform from a marching band to a symphonic band and will prepare for a Christmas concert for the community.
Page 2 of 2 - Looking further ahead, there will be a spring concert, and the band will take a trip to Chicago in late May and early June for a performance at the Navy Pier.
"This is a great bunch of kids," Slowensky said of the band.