• 79°

DBHS wins Buckeye Classic: Hornet ‘Band of Pride’ sweeps top awards

Dawson-Bryant High School’s performance at the 2019 Buckeye Classic was titled “Like a Diamond in the Sky,” and, at the end of the night, it was clear they had shined brightly.

The school’s Hornet “Band of Pride” won first place overall in the annual band competition at Tanks Memorial Stadium in Ironton on Saturday, also sweeping the top awards, winning the overall percussion, general effect and marching categories, and tying with South Point High School for best overall music and with Portsmouth West for best overall auxiliary.

Coming in as first runner up overall was Portsmouth West High School’s “Sensational Senators” marching band, with their show, “The Secret of Machines,” followed by last year’s champions, South Point, for their performance of the environmentally-themed “I Am Shelter.”

During the awards ceremony, Dawson-Bryant band members grew increasingly excited as the trophies piled up, followed by the big announcement.

“It’s hard to have words at this moment,” an elated band director Thomas Zerkle said, noting that this year’s band had earned the best performing record in the school’s history. “It feels wonderful. The students have worked so hard to get to this moment.”

Altogether about 500 students, from 15 bands from across Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, divided into four classes, took part in the festival, now in its 33rd year, Valerie Freeman, assistant guard instructor for Ironton High School’s “Million Dollar Band,” said.

As host school, Ironton does not compete in the event, but does an exhibition performance prior to the awards ceremony, where band members help distribute trophies.

“This is a great event for the students,” Freeman said. “It gives them a goal to toward and a time to shine. And they prove the community how important music and arts are in school.”

The event is organized by Freeman and Jeff Sanders, the school’s band director, along with assistant band directors Will Smith and Angel Malone.

“This is one of the largest band competitions in the Tri-State area,” Freeman said, adding that the event also helps bands to earn a superior rating from judges.

“That way, they can take part in state OMEA finals,” she said.

Freeman said this year’s event also paid tribute this year to Patty Freeman, Ironton’s guard instructor.

“She’s celebrating 40 years with Ironton,” she said.