Neal candies/ The herald
Drum Major Haley Lorey leads the Marching Rangers in their practice Tuesday night.
By CANDY NEAL
FERDINAND – As the sun set on Tuesday evening, a large group of Forest Park students could be seen walking with precision across the school grounds while humming to music they spent weeks learning.
Drum majors led the Marching Rangers as they trained on the school grounds, practicing their form, counting their steps and monitoring their timing.
But by nightfall, the Marching Rangers were grouped into groups according to their instruments, practicing music.
Every time a section of the program was over, the students would applaud. When they had to repeat or redo something, they didn’t complain. In fact, the walkers could be heard laughing together, berating each other and offering words of encouragement to get up.
They functioned as a family. Because they are, said Drum Majors Grace Andrews and Haley Lorey.
“We see each other pretty much every day,” Haley said, “even on weekends. Even after the band, we hang out together. We want to hang out together.”
The Rangers color guard flies flags during Saturday’s open invitation in Jasper.
Haley, a junior, started a band in eighth grade, playing the flute. She has been interested in music since she started playing the piano at the age of 3.
She said nearly half of the group’s 79 members are new this season.
“Having 40 new walkers makes it an exciting spectacle,” she said. “But they’re getting it pretty well.”
The Forest Park show, titled “A Tremendous Thing,” is one of the most difficult Grace has ever participated in. “It’s a big responsibility for the walkers,” she said. “We have a lot of individual responsibilities, while most groups focus on group responsibilities. “
Grace, an elder, has also been with the group since eighth grade, playing the clarinet. Her interest in music started when she was young and her family went to soccer games. “I saw the marching band there and I knew it was something I wanted to do,” she said. “I liked the band, the color guard, the drum majors, all that. And I wanted to do everything.
“A Tremendous Thing” is based on the characters from the children’s book “Charlotte’s Web”.
“But it’s not a cookie-cutter version of Charlotte’s Web,” Grace explained. “It tells the story of Charlotte and Wilbur’s relationship, rather than the actual story.”
“It’s sentimental and a little sad,” Haley added. “A tearful person for sure. The story at the end is about his legacy.
There are several voiceovers that can be heard during the performance that were done by the students, as well as students portraying Charlotte and Wilbur.
And the Marching Rangers family works well together in this performance.
“As a group, the chemistry is there. You can tell we all love each other, ”Haley said. “It’s something we all want to do. It’s not like they want to stay home and play video games. They really want to be here.
“Some come an hour early to train and hang out with their friends,” added Grace. “It’s like a family. It is quite special.
It is the dynamism and determination of all the walkers, including the new ones, which solidifies the group, explained the senior Brice Austin, percussionist leader. He helps members with their technique.
“The kids really want to be here. And that’s what I like, ”he said. “People want to be here and want to work. And that makes everyone so much better. With all the new kids, people weren’t expecting much from us this year. But we took it and we shaped it. It was a roll of the dice, but we were really lucky.
The students worked on their skills for months, including three group camps – one was for newbie group members – this summer. The camps helped group members to strengthen their skills and bond with one another. They worked and trained, but they also played games for fun. One day there was a water fight. Another day they danced using the “Just Dance” video game. There was a treasure hunt. There was even a nap one day. “It was one of the best days,” Haley said.
“We were able to spend more time bonding, instead of just working,” Grace said. “It helped us overall. Now we all know each other.
The relationships that students form make the group a rewarding experience.
“Most of my closest friends are in the group,” Grace said. “When I started, none of my friends were in the group. And now all my best friends are in the group.
“That’s why I think it’s easier to come here every day,” Haley added, “because that’s where your friends are.”
Because of these relationships, the old Marching Rangers want the new Rangers to be successful.
“I never thought of myself as a teacher. Before this year, I was only worried about learning my role. Now I teach others, ”said Brice. “The people above me helped me out, and that made it a lot easier for me. Now I help other children learn. So every time I leave they will be in good hands. This is the goal, that they always have the knowledge that you have acquired from others and that you have given them.
Being part of the Marching Rangers is more than just making great music. it’s about creating lasting relationships.
“I like being in a group to show my talent. But it’s really for the reunion and the friends, ”said Brice. “If I wasn’t in the group, I would work or study alone at home. And it’s no fun.
The Marching Rangers will perform today in the regionals at Central High School in Evansville. They will take the field at 3 p.m. (2 p.m. CT).