Marching Rangers are a musical family

Candy Neal/The Herald
Drum major Haley Lorey leads the Marching Rangers as they practice Tuesday evening.


FERDINAND — Tuesday evening as the sun set, a large group of Forest Park students could be seen walking in precision on the school lot while humming music they’ve spent weeks to learn.

Drum majors led the Marching Rangers as they practiced on the school lot, practicing their form, counting their steps and watching their timing.

But the time darkness fell, the Marching Rangers were clustered in groups based on their instruments, practicing the music.

Every time a section of the program was completed, students cheered. When they had to repeat or do something over, they didn’t complain. In fact, the marchers could be heard laughing together, chiding each other and offering words of encouragement to lift each other up.

They operated like a family. Because they are, drum majors Grace Andrews and Haley Lorey said.

“We see each other pretty much every day,” Haley said, “even on the weekends. Even after band, we hang out together. We want to hang out with each other.”

Photo provided
The Rangers' color guard twirls flags at Saturday’s open invitational in Jasper.

Haley, a junior, started band in eighth grade, playing flute. She’s been into music since she started playing the piano at age 3.

She said that almost half of the 79 band members are new this season.

“Having 40 new marchers makes this a challenging show,” she said. “But they are getting it pretty well.”

Forest Park’s show, called “A Tremendous Thing,” is one of the more challenging Grace has participated in. “It’s a lot of responsibility for the marchers,” she said. ”We have a lot of individual responsibilities, whereas most bands focus on group responsibilities.”

Grace, a senior, has also been with band since eighth grade, playing the clarinet. Her interest in music started when she was young and her family went to football games “I’d see the marching band there, and knew that was something I wanted to do,” she said. “I liked the band, the color guard, the drum majors, all of it. And I wanted to do all of it.”

“A Tremendous Thing” is based on 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 kind of sad,” Haley added. “A tear-jerker for sure. The story at the end is about her 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 is working well together in this performance.

“As a group, the chemistry is there. You can tell we all love each other,” Haley said. “This is something we all want to do. It’s not like they want to hang out at home and play video games. They really want to be here.”

“Some come in an hour early to practice and hang out with their friends,” Grace added. “It’s like a family. It’s pretty special.”

It’s the drive and determination of all the marchers, including the new ones, that solidifies the band, explained senior Brice Austin, percussionist leader. He helps the members with their technique.

“Kids do really care to be here. And that’s what I love,” he said. “People want to be here and want to work. And that makes everyone look so much better. With all the new kids, people weren’t expecting very much from us this year. But we took it and we shaped it. It was a dice roll, but we definitely lucked out.”

The students have been working on their skills for months, including three band camps — one was for the rookie band members — this summer. The camps helped the band members strengthen their skills and bond with each other. They worked and practiced, 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 scavenger hunt. There was even a nap one day. “That 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 students form makes band a rewarding experience.

“Most of my closest friends are in band,” Grace said. “When I started, none of my friends were in band. And now all my best friends are in band.”

“Which is why I think it’s easier to come here every day,” Haley added, “because this is where your friends are.”

Because of those relationships, the older Marching Rangers want to see the new Rangers do well.

“I never saw myself as a teacher. Before this year, I was only worried about learning my part. Now, I’m teaching others,” Brice said. “The people who were above me helped me, and that made it a lot easier. Now I’m helping the other kids learn. So whenever I leave, they will be in good hands. That’s the goal, that they still have the knowledge you gained from others and gave them.”

Being in the Marching Rangers is more than just making beautiful music. it’s about making long-lasting relationships.

“I like being in band to show off my talent. But it’s really for the grouping, and the friends,” Brice said. “If I wasn’t in band, I’d be working or home alone studying. And that’s no fun.”

The Marching Rangers will perform in regionals today at Central High School in Evansville. They will take the field at 3 p.m. (2 p.m. CT).

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