Combined West Shore Marching Band 'on road to greatness'

Nearly 20-hour-a-week practices, competitions every Saturday, and a game every Friday seems to describe an intense sport. That is what the West Shore Marching Band is all about.

Under the direction of Robert Starett, the West Shore Marching Band has placed top five in the nation for the past three years. After merging two high school marching bands, Cedar Cliff and Red Land, and forming the new one, the West Shore Marching Band has been on the fast track to greatness.

Their first joint show, titled “One,” was an inspirational, musically and visually appealing show about the coming together of two amazing, rival bands to create one even better.

It was tough for students of both schools to suddenly accept their biggest rival with open arms. Cedar Cliff senior Anton Saliaris said, “It was really strange. One second we were talking trash to each other; the next, we were marching side by side.”

While Cedar Cliff students had it bad, Red Land had it worse. The school shared one stadium; therefore, students who were part of the Red Land Marching Band would have to drive at least 20 minutes every other day to be at practice.

Once this problem was rectified, by having some practices at Red Land High School, more and more students began streaming in. Starrett said, “When I only taught Red Land, we were very small, and I knew from other people, so was Cedar Cliff’s [band]. After the merging, we were still small, and it was only after we made it easier to get to practice that we grew as a unit.”

It did not take long for students to realize how talented the other school was. “The drumline of each school hated each other,” said Red Land graduate Christopher Hoover. “We ate at different tables during breaks; we didn't talk to the other group; we didn't even look at each other. Finally, we had band camp together and were forced to talk, and we realized the other side was actually awesome.”

The marching band students will always have creative differences, but they come together to give a performance of a lifetime.

“No matter how much we get on each other’s nerves, we are a family,” Drumline Director Dimitri Saliaris said. “Families fight, they hurt each other, and they ignore each other, but they will always have each other’s back when someone needs it.”

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