ANKENY — October 15, 2016, will hold a place of honor in the annals of Perry marching band history.
The Blue Brigade started the day by earning the school’s first-ever Division 1 rating at the State Marching Band competition at Waukee, then played, marched and performed their way to an excellent sixth-place showing late in the evening at the Mid-Iowa Band Championships in Ankeny.
Perry Instrumental Music Director Brandon Weeks was delighted and proud of the effort of the 92-member Blue Brigade and 14-member Color Guard.
“I am so proud of the kids and so happy for them, because they earned this and they deserve it,” Weeks said. “It is so rewarding to see all of their hard work pay off. They can be proud of what they achieved today.”
The Blue Brigade has been performing a Randall Standridge routine “Pulse: The Art of Motion.” The show is to recognize the “pulse of our heartbeat” and “pulse of our lives.”
The State Marching Band event in Waukee uses a scoring system in which teams are competing to post a score, and not a score in direct relation to other bands. Bands are rated on a scale of 1-5, with 1 the highest honor. Division 1 ratings begin with 68 points, a marker Perry passed earlier this season in Fort Dodge with a school-best 68.5 in a band-vs-band competition.
In Waukee the Blue Brigade shattered that record with a score of 78, a result which pleased all involved with the Perry program. The team had roughly two hours to kill between events, and rather than return to Perry, the band spent the time eating and hanging around Jordan Creek Mall before re-boarding the buses for Ankeny.
“You wouldn’t believe how crazy our buses were,” Weeks laughed. “The kids were really enjoying themselves, and they deserved to. I could not have been happier for them, and then to see the kind of performance they gave in really cruddy weather in Ankeny really said a lot of them.”
The Blue Brigade’s final performance of the day did not come until after 10 p.m. but the long day and long waits, sometimes in bad weather — it rained on the band as they warmed up, and again as they left the field — proved to be well worth it. The band had competed in Ankeny two years ago when they first returned to competition, and for the upperclassmen, Saturday’s sixth-place performance served as redemption for a performance that was, Weeks admitted, “not real great” for what amounted to a novice troupe in 2014.
While the Ankeny effort was, by itself, more than enough to rate Saturday a success, it was the morning routine in Waukee that stood out, the director stated.
“School records only go back to the late 1960s, so there might have been a Division 1 before then, but as far as we are concerned we are going to call this the first-ever,” Weeks said. “We have a home game to play at Friday, but this was the end of competition season for us. I knew we could do this well and cannot say enough times how happy I am for them. They deserve all the recognition I hope they get.”
Leah (Mrs. Brandon) Weeks and Christian Loaiza have been helping with the performances, with Eric Williams working with the drum line.
“It is not about us,” Brandon Weeks said. “This is about a group of kids who worked hard and believed in themselves and got to see it all pay off.”