By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
West Virginia University boasts of its band, calling it the “Pride of West Virginia”. Let’s just say that Morgantown has nothing on Shinnston – that can certainly do a little bragging of its own on the Lincoln High School Marching Band. Band Director Fred Channell and his assistant (wife Julie) say that dubbing the Cougar Band the “Pride of Shinnston” is a fitting label.
Earlier this month, the Lincoln High School Marching Band traveled to Randolph County to participate in the Mountain State Forest Festival, one of the largest and oldest festivals in the state, held in Elkins. In addition to the grand parade, they also took part in a field competition later that afternoon, rivaling with numerous bands from across the state.
“Although we do take part in the local Band Spectacular, typically, we are a show band, not a competition band,” stated Director Fred Channell. “We entered the field competition mainly to give our students the exposure to what other avenues of band competition are like. This was really the first competition the Lincoln band has participated in since the 1908’s.”
You can imagine their delight to bring home six trophies, competing against 20 performing bands on parade and 15 in field competition! What was intended to be a “good experience” reaped many rewards for the students. Their awards included the following:
– Best Percussion in Group 4, Class A
– Best Drum Major (Karlie Murray) in Group 4, Class A
– Best Auxiliary (Danceline & Flags) in Group 4, Class A
– 1st Place Band in Group 4, Class A
– 2nd Runner up In Parade, Group 4 Overall
– Best Overall Auxiliary Group in Parade
“We were so proud of our kids,” Mr. Channell noted. “Their playing scores were far, far above everyone else; and truly, the only band that did any better was the band from Hurricane, WV.” (Hurricane High School is nationally recognized for its stellar music program!)
Lincoln High School has a student population of approximately 540, and out of that enrollment, 118 students are members of the band! That is expected to grow since there is a possibility of 60 middle school students moving up next year.
The importance of band is often understated; however, it brings with it many opportunities for learning – in addition to music! There is discipline – numerous rehearsals, music and drill memorization. There is teamwork – each student and each instrument being a contributor to the end result. There is sacrifice – surrendering free time for practices and school events and well as managing studies. There is camaraderie – sharing experiences that build lifelong friendships. And don’t forget courtesy and respect – shown as they welcome and applaud bands from visiting schools.
Both Fred and Julie Channell agreed, “We are fortunate in many ways. First, we have really great kids who take a lot of pride in their band. The entire community offers us great support as well. Our students also have good GPAs, and it should be noted that at least half of our band members also take part in some sort of sports too. And, last but certainly not least, we owe a great debt of gratitude to our school administrators and counselors who feel that band is also a priority, and they work hard to ensure that students’ schedules can also accommodate band class. We’re blessed in so many ways here at Lincoln High School!”
The band also has an active Band Boosters organization that tries to help financially. The organization is hosting its 3rd annual craft fair this Saturday, November 1st at Lincoln High School.
Mrs. Channell explained, “This is, I think, the first Christmas craft fair in the area, and we’ll have close to 50 vendors participating! They will fill the entire commons area with spillover into the hallways. It is important because we are trying desperately to raise money for new uniforms. The normal lifespan of a uniform is about ten years, and ours are 14-15 years old and beginning to suffer from dry rot. All proceeds from this craft fair will benefit the uniform fund.”
The community is encouraged to support this Saturday’s craft fair fundraiser. Seventeen senior band members will graduate this year, and there is hope that at least 40 of the incoming freshmen next year will continue their interest in music by joining the band, so additional uniforms will be needed.
Mr. Channell concluded, “Shinnston should be very proud of these kids. They truly are the “Pride of Shinnston”!
Help them look as good as they sound by supporting the uniform campaign at this Saturday’s craft fair. It’s also a great opportunity to get started on holiday shopping!!!!