Ending on a high note: THS band completes successful competition season

Published 5:22 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2023

By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

ALABASTER – Thompson High School’s Marching Southern Sounds recently rounded out competition season with its sixth consecutive Grand Champion award in the last two years.

The Marching Southern Sounds recently returned from the Tennessee Valley Invitational competition in Muscle Shoals, where it received superior ratings and best in class band in every category as well as earned the Crowd Favorite Award, Grand Champion and the Annual Challenge Cup.

“It was absolutely incredible,” said Graham Bennett, director of bands at THS. “The band had an incredible showcase in Muscle Shoals against some incredible bands. I think it was one of the best shows of the season all around.”

The Tennessee Valley Invitational on Oct. 21 marked the band’s third competition this year after finding success at the 59th Annual Midsouth Band Competition and the 39th Heart of Dixie Marching Festival.

“It was an unreal feeling watching the band in stands where I could tell they knew the groups they were going against,” Bennett said.

Despite the stiff competition, The Marching Sounds pulled away with best in class band in every category and a Grand Champion award for the third time this season.

“The one that was really an incredible feeling was when they won the Annual Challenge Cup,” Bennett said. “This was an award for the best band of the entire contest through and through. It’s a really special award because it includes all of groups—the color guard, majorettes, dance, percussion, drum majors and band—and all of them together beat every band from 1A all the way through 5A and they really showed out.”

The final competition marks the close of a period of practice and hard work by the band to perfect its show after preparations first began in May.

“They’ve been working so hard, and it’s just really amazing to see all that hard work pay off,” Bennett said.

Bennett discussed the importance of band programs like ones at Thompson High School.

“Music is great, performance is great but building better people is what we do,” Bennett said. “These are some of the best students that I’ve ever had the blessing to work with.

“When we come out on the band practice field and we’re working from beginning to end, I’ll tell the kids daily, ‘If you play all the right notes, if you catch every toss—that’s important to me. But if you walk out of here and you’re not a better person, we haven’t done our job.’”

Bennett commended his students for their growth this season.

“I can firmly say that every single student in this program has grown tremendously as individuals, in maturity and in their lives,” he said. “It’s a family through and through. We’ve got disagreements and we’ve got our agreements but at the end, we all come together and make this extraordinary cohesive unit that is what everyone was able to witness this season.”

Bennet expressed his appreciation to ACS and band staff for their assistance in making The Marching Southern Sounds possible.

“There is no possible way that I could do any of this without our staff, without our incredible parents, without the Alabaster City Schools Board of Education, our Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers, our Principal Michael Lee and just the whole community of Alabaster,” Bennett said.

Bennett is joined on the THS staff by Associate High School Director of Bands, Corey Hyman, Associate High School Director of Bands Rebecca Reinhardt, Director of  Percussion Jamiah Robbins, Colorguard Coach Brandon Cornelison, Assistant Colorguard Coach Emily Dodson, Dance Coach Emily Bennett, Assistant Dance Coach Harlie Wilson, Majorette Coach Gretchen Moore, Music Arranger Justin Williams and Drill Writer Chris Pennington.