A number of area high school performers are on their way to national bowl games. It takes a lot of work getting ready to impress an audience of millions.
As News on Six reporter Tami Marler shows us, these kids are up for the task. Itâ€™s warm-up time for the Booker T. Washington Hornets. They're going to need the conditioning for what's ahead. Shavonda Pannell, Dance Team Captain, "'Cause you need to be in shape for what we're fixin' to do because I'm sure that parade is every bit of a mile and a half, maybe two miles. We've worked really hard; put a lot of effort into it. Make sure the dances look right; put a lot of coordination. We've worked really hard." After raising $56,000, the award-winning Hornet band is heading to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
They'll pit their unique field show against 18 other bands from all over the country. Band director Elmer Davis, "I guess you would say we are a little different. Say we are more of the traditional style of marching. We do a little high step; we pick our knees up when we march you know." They do a little more than pick up their knees. Under Elmer Davis' direction for nearly 30 years, the Hornets have built a national reputation for thrilling audiences. Jermel Meeks, senior saxophone player, "That's what bands are for, we're to entertain the audience. It may look like a jumbled mess down here, but they're thinking all the time. It's eight steps between every yard line; that means you have to hit the middle on four, stay shoulder-to-shoulder while you're playing the music perfectly. All this, so it looks just right from up there." James Jones III, drum major, "I have to turn on six, I have to do this on 8. And you constantly think ahead like that and you constantly become a part of it. You can't think about what you're doing at the moment; you always have to think ahead. What's next, what's next?" "Think about your accenting; think about your tempo, if the beat is too slow. And me being a drum major, keeping the whole band in line as a whole.â€
All of that conditioning, hard work and thinking ahead make the Hornet band a well-oiled machine, with a style the Peach Bowl audience won't soon forget. The Hornets aren't the only area performers heading to a bowl game.
We caught up with the Union Highsteppers earlier in the week as they prepare to represent the state at the Cotton Bowl. The reigning national and state champs were invited to perform, before anyone knew the OU Sooners would be on the ticket. Lindsay Bane, Union Highstepper, "Somebody said, they were like, OU's going to the Cotton Bowl and I jumped up and I was so excited, so I'm just excited to watch the game." Megan Krause, Union Highstepper, "Out on the field, in front of I hear it's a sellout crowd, it's like 60,000 people; and that's just most amazing feeling when you're done and the crowd's roaring."
Union's Renegade Regiment is going even further west, to the Tournament of Roses Parade. The marching band will also perform in a field show. The Mounds Midnight Regiment is invited to the Sugar Bowl.
And Bixby High School is playing in the Florida Bowl on New Year's Day.