Dartmouth High band and color guard are national champions

Nov 10, 2019

Parents, students, and fans of all ages were on hand to give the national championship-winning Dartmouth High marching band and color guard a celebrity welcome home. 

With a police and fire truck escort, coach buses pulled up to Dartmouth High late Sunday night as crowds sang Glory to Dartmouth and snapped photos of the band's fourth first place trophy from the USBands National Championship. 

Dartmouth High scored a 98.575 in the Group 5 Open Championship held Saturday at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Dartmouth High bested eight other high schools in its class to earn the title of national champions for the fourth year in a row. 

“As far as the performance, it was the best one of the year,” said Band Director Bill Kingsland, noting Dartmouth High also has the best placement in the performance order as well. 

Dartmouth High brought its show, titled “Witching Hour,” to the USBands judges in New Jersey. The show focuses on the atmosphere, sounds, and unusual supernatural occurrences during the “Witching Hour.” 

“I thought these kids did an excellent job dealing with the cold as far as pitch and all of those concerns went,” Kingsland said. “All of our electronics went off without a hitch, which has been a problem in the past for us.” 

For senior Drum Major Luke Higgins, being back at MetLife Stadium is always a challenge to top the performance of the year before and keep the championship trophies coming. 

“It’s awesome there, the lights make us look so good, and it’s always such a good feeling to be in front of a massive crowd,” Higgins said. “Performing is a feeling like no other.”

“The techs and the directors always push us hard, and they always tell us to push them back,” added snare player Alex Le. 

For Kingsland — and the performers and wider Dartmouth community — the show was also a milestone in that it is likely Kingsland’s last. He plans to retire as Dartmouth’s Band Director, although an official retirement date has not yet been set. 

“It’s been 36 years, and I kind of look at is as it’s almost time to have a new person,” Kingsland said. “The whole configuration of the activity is changing.” 

However, Kingsland noted it is not just him at the helm of the program. Assistant band director Tim Aungst, drill designer Mike Rayner, brass instructor Tyler Kingsland, and color guard instructor Addison Kaeterle all bring the program to where it is today, he noted.