Three-time national champion band gets hero’s welcome

Nov 11, 2018

Heralded by fire engines and police cars with sirens and lights, the three-time national champions in the Dartmouth High Marching Band came home to a party in front of the high school.

Hundreds of parents had gathered with cookies and decorations to welcome the students home after their overnight trip to Metlife Stadium in New Jersey for the USBands Open Class National Championships. The band came in first place in its division with a score of 98.075 — the highest score of any competing band in any division. This is its third year in a row as a national champion.

This year’s show, “The Rainforest,” featured difficult music and choreography in an intricate and colorful display of the band’s prowess. The members of the Color Guard dressed as macaws, with wings in addition to their flags. The show also included props like trees and a platform utilized by dancers and soloists in the band.

Valrie Paynton, a drum major and a senior, has been a part of the band for all three champion wins.

“It’s my senior year, so it’s a little bittersweet,” Paynton said. “But it was exhilarating because we weren’t sure how it would go at first.”

She said that at some point during the season, everything clicked into place and the band redoubled its efforts. Even a major glitch — the electronics broke down during their performance — didn’t throw the students off.

“That was the best run we’ve ever had,” Paynton said.

Alex Barrachina, a senior and the first trumpet, emphasized the hard work put in by the students in the band.

“We practice 25 hours a week at least,” Barrachina said. The band starts practicing in August before school starts.

“Everyone has to be perfect,” Barrachina said. “The more work you put in, the better you are.”

Buen Orbiso, one of the captains of the color guard, said that this year’s routine was harder than in previous years, and that everyone was nervous leading up to the championships.

“It was the cleanest show we’ve done,” Orbiso said. “Last night, we were really hyped up and there was a lot of energy on the field.”