Band leaves all on the field as they miss finals at the State Contest
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Members of the Duncanville Band and High Hats arrived to the school early Wednesday afternoon to the claps and cheers of some of their classmates. While the banners and notes that decorated the band hall congratulated them, the participation plaque the band directors carried weighed on their hearts at that moment. After their two outstanding 1st and 2nd place performances at the UIL Area Prelims and Finals Marching Contest, the band expected to go farther than they ever had before at State with their game changing show.
“Prior to Area, I had a feeling I had never felt before in any contest with our band…calm confidence,” band director Mark Teal said. “I knew the performances were going to be spectacular and the band delivered two world class performances. Saying I was proud doesn’t even feel strong enough for my emotions and feelings at Area.”
From the first day of August, every person that had a part in the show was at work creating the masterpiece that would become Postcards from Paris. Unlike anything ever performed by the Duncanville band, the Paris-themed show was sure to leave its mark on the audiences it would be performed to and hopefully to the world of competition marching band.
This season held a special importance for the juniors and seniors as it will be their last chance to attend State whereas the freshmen and sophomores will have another chance.
“I had to prepare myself mentally before anything else. I knew going into the season that there was a huge goal to achieve, and that was state,” senior Ramon Mendez said. “It’s my last competition show ever and I put my all into it from day one.”
After earning one of the top five spots in Area, the band was off to State continuing the honor and tradition of advancing to the State marching contest every year since 1988. Although that was an achievement in itself, the hunger for more only grew within the band. Before the band and high hats loaded their buses and set off for their trip to San Antonio, their mindset was reinforced once again. Inspirational videos of band alumni and a collage of pictures as well as short speeches from our principal, Ms. Tia Simmons, and band director David Brandon, gave students even more motivation.
The band took to the field at 1 p.m. in the afternoon on Tuesday Nov. 8 for what would be their last time competing with Postcards from Paris. After hearing the 12 bands advancing to the finals portion of State, excluding Duncanville, they knew their long journey was close to being over.
“As soon as the first band was announced for finals, my eyes flooded with tears. I felt so anxious and scared but looking at the field I remembered the last time I was at the dome waiting for results,” Mendez said, “Remembering how much work and emotion went into that, I just wanted to be called again to show everyone what the Duncanville band can do. This time I wanted it more than ever, more than anything in the world, to go to finals one last time. As soon as they were done announcing the 12 finalists, my heart sank and broke right then and there.”
Many other members of the band were shocked and tears flowed freely as the stadium began to empty out. The traditional Duncanville Band dismissal was strong as ever as the united voices of each student remained prideful in their organization and released their emotion together.
“I knew we all did everything we could and every student gave their all. Placements don’t matter,” Teal said. “The look of pride I saw in the band and High Hats faces is what matters and keeps me wanting to push forward and challenge the band more next year.”
Changing things about the show was not an option for the band as they heard the final results, Teal had one thing to say about what he would change about the show.
“Nothing…period,” Teal said.
So as the band was welcomed home by smiles and messages taped to the band hall walls, tears were released once again and hugs of comfort were passed around. Not advancing to finals had to be acknowledged but it did not have to be a loss.
“I had to accept everything for what it was and know I left my heart out there on that field,” Mendez said.
Mendez said he will forever remember the final time he marched the show as a competition piece.
“To perform Postcards from Paris one last time was the best feeling ever,” Mendez said, “I marched to the best of my ability and played every note with grace. And at the end of the show, I cried like a baby because I was proud of what we accomplished this season.”
Mendez said this show will be one he will remember for a long time as it was not the usual show.
“This show was different and amazing and unique in every single way,” Mendez said. “We put so much hard work into it and I know the audience saw that, and we know that… and it’s just an amazing feeling to know you left it all out there one last time.”
The band had a crowd of support all season. The shouts of parents and Band Boosters with their heartfelt cheer of “Let’s Go Duncanville Band!” each performance right before the big hit was a boost for the whole band. Teal had one final thing to say to all the supporters of the show and the band itself.
“You are the reason the directors get up in the morning, stay at school 18 hours a day, learn to sew, build props, fight to give you the best experiences that you will remember for a lifetime,” Teal said. “We love you all and are so very proud. Now let’s do it again next year!!”