‘Another triumphant chapter’
Weehawken High School Marching Band wins national championship
Nov 26, 2017 | 2116 views | 0 0 comments | 78 78 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Weehawken High School Marching Band won the 2017 USBands 1A National Championship earlier this month, making it the second time in the past five years that Weehawken has won first place.

That same day, the Weehawken Marching Band also took first place in the USBands 1A state championships. The band has been undefeated in all six competitions it has entered this marching band season.

The Weehawken Marching Band’s program, called “Snow Day,” had three parts.

The first, called “The Announcement,” begins with a solitary member of the color guard on the field, hugging her pillow. Her phone rings loud enough for the whole audience to hear. She listens through the receiver to a recorded announcement from Superintendent Dr. Robert R. Zywicki saying, “Today is a snow day.” She tosses her pillow in glee.

The rest of the marching band emerges from behind winter scenery. The color guard dances its sense of freedom, and the marching band’s instrumentalists play a rousing celebration of their day off from school – all the while marching backwards, sideways, and in formation.

The second part of the routine, “The Pond,” conveys the joy of ice-skating. The third part, “The Snowball Fight,” has a convincing snowball fight with the color guard ganging up on the musicians with styrofoam snowballs. Ultimately, the musicians lob snowballs not only at the color guard, but at the audience as well.

Conveying a day off from school involved days after school

Just as the Weehawken High School Marching Band members conveyed their day off from school, they practiced program routine sometimes as often as five days a week after school, five hours at a stretch. They also practiced for about 10 hours a day the last two weeks of the summer to prepare for the fall performances.

Three judges marked the bands on many criteria, such as musicality; marching execution; and the skill of their color guard to convey the music through dance. The color guard also won first place in both the state and national championships.

Because so many experienced band members graduated from Weehawken High School last year, some community members were concerned that a new band comprised of such a high percentage of underclassmen would not be experienced enough to be competitive. They needn’t have been worried.

Marching away with the national championship was a triumphant way for Weehawken High School’s new Director of Bands, Minesh Shah, to show what he could do in his first few months on the new job.

“Nothing would be possible, including performing at a high level and being so successful competitively,” Shah said, “if it wasn’t for the support of Dr. Zywicki and the entire administration, including Athletic Director Nick DeStefano, who has been so helpful supporting the marching band.” Added Shah, “It also helps that we have kids that love performing and are self-driven for greatness.”

In 2016, the Weehawken Band won the Tournament of Bands Atlantic Coast championship and was named to NJ.com's list of top marching bands in New Jersey. Weehawken Superintendent Dr. Zywicki views the win “as another triumphant chapter in a long history of success for the Weehawken Band.”

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