Marching Knights climb high at the USBands Open Class National Championships


Photo Courtesy of North Penn Music Aide's Flickr Album

Marching Knights members at their Community Knight.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Capping off the season, the North Penn Marching Knights placed 4th at the USBands Open Class National Championships at the MetLife Stadium on November 9th.

The Marching Knights have been preparing since June one to three times a week. During that time, they learned the basics of marching and playing, and then they began to rehearse some of the music that would be played during football games and for their competition show. In the last two weeks of summer, they began band camp in which there are 2 weeks of 8-hour rehearsals every day. When the school year began, they rehearsed every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 6:30 to 9 and on Fridays before the football game. On Saturdays, they practiced for 6 hours before they went to their competitions.

As for practices, the colorguard, drums, and wind ensemble go in different sections. Towards the end, they come together and rehearse as a full unit.

This years’ show was called Mountains of the Mind which was about mountain climbing and overcoming adversity.

“We’ve been preparing the whole year for that day, and it’s pretty tough to have only one shot to perfect what you’ve been working on the whole season for 5 months. Since it’s my 3rd year, I knew what to expect, and I was very excited, but I can remember being very nervous about playing in the huge MetLife Stadium during my first year,” said North Penn Junior Ben Heck.

“I was a little nervous as anyone would be walking into an NFL stadium to perform but I felt confident in both myself and my team because we have practiced 6-9 almost every day for the past 3-4 months,” said North Penn Junior Mackenzie Sutton.

Placing 4th was the perfect way to end their season.

“This season was outstanding. We had a great team of 80 students and about 20 staff that worked extremely hard to put the show together. It was a beautiful show that was well designed and well-executed by the students. We finished first in every local competition against bands like Quakertown, Perkiomen Valley, and Avon Grove. Then towards the end of the season, we started larger events, including 2nd place at State Championships by only 2 tenths of a point, and 2nd at Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships by only 5 hundredths of a point. So, going into Nationals we were very excited about facing even tougher competition and putting our show to the ultimate test. We competed against 9 other bands of our size at MetLife Stadium and finished 4th, behind a band from Connecticut and two from Massachusetts,” said Marching Band Director Mr. Joseph Santanello.

“Placing 4th is a pretty good accomplishment, but what we like to focus on more is our own personal performances. We can’t control how good the other bands perform or how the judges’ opinions show up on the scorecards, so what we celebrated the most was the progress we made and how well we had gotten the show, and how well we performed it at that huge venue

“After placing 4th, I seriously couldn’t have been more prouder. Not only did we get our highest score of the season (95.45) but we also were the highest scoring Pennsylvania band and we were .025 away from being bronze medalists. It was a wonderful way to end what I would call my best season yet as a Marching Knight,” said Sutton.

“Finishing 4th was a big accomplishment. In the past 3 years, North Penn finished 9th, 6th, and 5th so this was the highest placement at Nationals in quite some time. Although you always like to place higher, I don’t think many staff or students were disappointed. The three bands that finished ahead of us were outstanding and being at the same level of them is something to be proud of. We are excited about taking the achievements of 2019 and doing even better next year,” said Santanello.

After a successful season, Marching Knights member Mackenzie Sutton reflected on what being a Marching Knight means to her.

“Since August the Marching Knights have been the family away from home for every single member. It’s truly not just a bunch of geeks like the movies, instead you create family-like bonds and appreciation for one another both in high school and out like no other activity can do for people,” said Sutton.