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For the past three weekends, the Beatrice High School marching band has performed at several competitions and marched back with a Division I ranking.

This is the sixth consecutive year the BHS marching band ranked Division I.

Band instructor Andrew Johnson said the band focused more on their performances than the rankings, which are determined by different judges at each competition.

“Our philosophy is to go and work to improve every time we perform. Week to week, every rehearsal just continue to improve. That’s how we operate,” Johnson said.

The theme for their performances this year was Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. The Mexican holiday is celebrated Nov. 1-2 each year, where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration.

Not only did the band’s pieces relate to the holiday, they had visual aspects of Día de los Muertos, as well.

At the center of the band sat an offrenda, a collection of objects placed on a ritual display for a dead loved one during the holiday. The offrenda was decorated with orange pompoms, which resembled marigolds, and papel picado, which are intricate designs cut into colored paper. Both are prevalent parts of the holiday, and Mexican in culture overall.

Several students dressed as calveras, which are decorated skulls whose designs symbolize life and death, among other things.

Senior Alexis Schwartz, a drum major in the marching band, said this show was one of her favorites she’s done, and that she enjoyed learning more about the tradition of Día de los Muertos.

“I think overall we did really well,” Schwartz said. “Definitely our best performance was in state, and that’s where we wanted it to be. End our season on a high note.”

The band participated in the LINKS Marching Contest in Lincoln on Oct. 12, the Lincoln Public Schools Marching Band Invitational Lincoln on Oct. 19 and the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association’s State Marching Competition on Oct. 26.

During their last morning rehearsal, Johnson said he had the marching band watch the senior’s state contest performance from freshman year.

“They watched themselves out there and the mistakes they were making as freshman, then were able to look back as seniors and see the progression and reflect and see how far they’ve come,” Johnson said, “but also to have this year’s set of freshman see how they were reacting, that is a valuable thing for them to know that they can end up at that point, as well.”

Senior Hannah Kassmeier said she and the other trumpet players had a rough start to the season after last year’s seniors left.

“We kind of had to pick up the slack,” Kassmeier said. “We had to train up our freshman and just throw them in, but they worked really hard and came together to perform.”

“I think us seniors did a really good job of leading the freshman and showing them the ways and getting them prepared for next year without us,” Schwartz said.

Looking back at her time in marching band, Kassmeier said she thinks it’s an important high school program to be a part of.

“It really is a big family, and I don’t know what I would’ve done without it,” Kassmeier said.

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