A buzz of activity was in the air this past week as the Sound of Panther Pride Marching Band, under the direction of Nathan Long, Beth Jinkins and Jon West, set the stage for another successful season. The award winning marching band will be designing and creating one of Oak Grove's most ambitious shows to date - 'Les Miserables'! Summer camp for band members started with colorguard, drumline and Brass Camp. While each director worked among those groups, every member of the band were fitted into a uniform by band volunteers Debbie Smith, Rachel Smith and Sara Smith. "I'm sure as the community is watching the band at home games that they're not really thinking about what a huge task it is to fit nearly 190 students into a band uniform, hat and shoes," Nathan Long stated. "Without our incredible base of parent support, we wouldn't be able to get a show together, much less be ready to compete by the end of September," Long added.
The OGHS colorguard is comprised of 18 girls from within the high school band program. Auditions into this elite outfit were held last school year with a record number of incoming freshmen making the squad. Captains Ali Vinke and Miranda Strickland are excited about building upon the storied past success of Oak Grove's colorguard unit. Beth Jinkins, director of the colorguard, hired choreographer Karley Nance of Odessa and Torri Hicks Oak Grove alumnae to help design a challenging routine for each of the band's field tunes. "Each year, we have strong competition. But last year, we ended the season upsetting one our strongest competitors so the girls are especially focused. We are definitely looking forward to the season," stated Jinkins. Members of the Oak Grove Colorguard are Ali Vinke, Miranda Strickland, Leslie Green, Allyssa Fitzpatrick, Megan Borland, Presley Martin, Cassie Herring, Sadie Moss, Calley Nieweg, Jenna Gipson, Madison Weedin, Savanna Trivers, Abby Letzig, Kinsey Farmer, Savannah Purkey, Alexa Easley, Lexi Allen and Chloee Tripp.
For the second year the band program has offered a short, intensive brass camp to further improve upon the band's namesake. Jon West, beginning his third year as one of the band's directors, leads nearly forty students that play an instrument within the brass family. "After watching and listening to Bluecoats rehearse here in Oak Grove, I wanted to steal some of their ideas and warm-ups for our students. We had such success with 'The Planet's' last year that I really think we're going to be the band to beat this year," West exclaimed. In addition to special brass lip slurs and exercises, West led the group through all three tunes that form the 2015 'Les Miserables' field show including 'The Attack on Rue Plumet', 'Work Song/At the End of the Day' and 'One Day More'.
The Oak Grove drumline also held camp this past week in preparation for the upcoming marching band season. Twenty-five percussionists make up what has become the heartbeat of 'The Sound of Panther Pride' marching band. Students were immersed in technique and fundamentals during the six hour rehearsals while also learning the music to this year's theme: 'Les Miserables'. Additional staff were hired on to help Mr. Long work the drumline into competitive shape. Nathan Gargus, newly hired band director of Russellville, Missouri was back to work his third season with the Oak Grove drumline. "(Gargus's) dedication to all things drumline makes him an invaluable resource to the percussion students in our program," Long said. Adding to the depth of drumline expertise were two former Captains of the OGHS drumline - Trey Vinke, class of 2013 and Anna Lee, Valedictorian for the class of 2015. "It's a comforting feeling to have a growing base of solid players that are interested in the drumline's continued success," Long explained. "Trey worked hard each and everyday of drumline camp and is interested in helping during full band camp for free. With Anna, I always like there to be a grace period before bringing someone back; however, Anna emailed from a family vacation in Switzerland and said how much she would love to work the frontline on her favorite music in the world - the music of 'Les Mis.' I just couldn't pass up the chance to see her work the line one more time'" Long stated. Members of this year's frontline, with senior Co-Captian Brooke Eason and asl (assistant section leader) Mikayla Bullard are Breanna Drury, Patrick Yuille, Daniel Hamilton, Michael Beltz, CJ Grewell, David Saucedo, Kirsten Rogers, Mallory Peters, Christiana Landsberg, Fenton Herr and Olivia Johnson. Batterie members include Co-Captain John Teasley, asl Jackson Engelhard, asl Jessica Kim, Jake Harrenstien, John Macrander, Megan Ray, Emily Stovall, Jeremy Dunn, Mac Dumsky, Cordelia Minnis and Carter Thielbar.
Full band meets Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings this week in preparation for their annual 'Sneak Peek' performance at panther stadium on Thursday, August 13th after a 6:00 band parent meeting in the performing arts center. The community is invited to catch a glimpse of the 2015 'Les Miserables' field show around 6:30.