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North Hardin High School’s marching band wore purple ribbons Saturday as they marched in the Bands of America Regional Championship at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond.
They also were wearing the ribbons when they were named grand champions of the competition among all the bands.
The last time the band had been awarded that honor was in 2000, during Chuck Campbell’s last year as the school’s marching band director.
Campbell, who retired as band director at the school, died this past summer after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Band members honored his memory by wearing the purple ribbons that are the symbolic color for the cancer. They have also dedicated this season to Campbell, which is why securing the first win in the Bands of America Regional Championship in 11 years seemed ever more special, current band director Brian Froedge said.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It just kind of seems like a little bit more than coincidence.”
Froedge, who began serving as Campbell’s assistant band director in 1993, said band members always want to have a good year, and they’re especially motivated this year.
“We’ve talked to the kids about what kind of a person he was, how he made people feel special, how dedicated he was, how hard he worked,” he said. “We’re trying to live up to his example.”
Color guard member Jade Jobson attributes the band’s win to having many upperclassmen, strong leaders and individual instruction between older and younger band members.
“It feels amazing that we could come this far,” she said.
Jobson, a junior from Vine Grove, hopes the win is a good sign as her band moves toward the Kentucky Music Educators Association State Finals on Oct. 29 at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.
“I’m crossing my fingers,” she said.
Assistant band director Abe Barr said the band has often placed third in the event, facing strong competition from Lexington schools Lafayette High School and Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.
Barr said North Hardin’s band could stand a good chance in this year’s competition after sweeping all three Bands of America Regional Championship categories – music, visual and general effect. The band even topped traditional rival Lafayette.
“I think we’re in a really good position right now,” he said.
Central Hardin High School’s marching band took eighth place in the competition, which consists of a preliminary round and a final round. The school placed in the finals for the first time since 1996.
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or email@example.com.