Petals to medals: Dartmouth High band and color guard are national champs

Nov 8, 2021

For the fifth time since 2016, the Dartmouth High marching band and color guard returned from the Meadowlands as the top in the nation, winning their tenth overall championship in program history.

Heralded by fire engines and police cars with sirens and lights Sunday night, the champs were given a celebrity welcome at the high school as parents and classmates sang “Glory to Dartmouth” and snapped photos of their latest trophy from the USBands National Championship. 

The band scored a 98.0 in the Group 5 Open Championship held Saturday at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey — the highest score of any division at the competition. Dartmouth also won accolades for top percussion and color guard.

“The performance was absolutely amazing,” Music Director Ian Flint said. “You could feel an energy coming off the field.”

This year’s theme was “Petals and Thorns” and featured music from Scheherazade, “El tango de Roxanne” from Moulin Rouge, and “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal.

In the leadup to nationals, the band and color guard picked up several prominent first-place wins in regional and New England championship events — including scoring 99.2 in a first-place division finish in the New England Scholastic Band Association's championships in New London, Conn. on Oct. 31.

Even with the high scores ahead of their Meadowlands performance, Flint thought their championship show was their best one of the year.

“Their execution level was just something else,” he said. “They performed at such a high caliber on that day.” 

The music director thanked his staff for being “able to make this all happen.”

“They’re real professionals,” Flint said. “Them and the kids.”

Senior violinist Olivia Jasmin was very grateful to be part of this year’s team. Despite it being her final year in high school, this was Jasmin’s first year with the band.

“I’m very honored that I was asked to do this,” she said. “I’m especially happy for the other seniors who have done this longer — I’ve grown up with these kids and they deserve this.”

The violinist added that it was quite an adjustment to learn how to perform in front of large, outdoor crowds. 

“It’s very different from being in an orchestra,” she said.

But once she stepped foot on the MetLife turf, those nerves went away.

“It was awesome,” Jasmin said. “Not as intimidating as I thought.”

Sophomore color guard member Jesse Walker noted that this has been his fourth trip to the competition.

“This has probably been my most successful one since I’ve been in the program,” he said with a smile. “The audience reaction was just on a whole ‘nother level.

He added that the victory was a bit bittersweet since this was the last show he would do with his older sister Jaeda, a graduating senior. 

“She’s the reason I’m even in this program,” Jesse said.

Jaeda, who has been involved in performance arts since she was 2, echoed those sentiments.

“I’m so glad I got to do it here with my family,” she said. “I’m really going to miss all of this, I love it here.”

Even after capturing a national championship, the work doesn’t stop for the music department. 

Flint noted that preparation is already underway for holiday concerts and the indoor percussion season, along with having things set up for next year’s marching band.

“It’s nonstop,” he said with a laugh.