Belpre High School Marching Band a point of pride for community

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BELPRE, Ohio (WTAP) - Belpre High School's marching-band program once dwindled to next to nothing.

It was reborn a few years back in the form of a pep band, and now, after years of gradual growth, the band has become the "Pride of Belpre."

Even after growing to 55 members, the band is still trying to improve. This year, it's trying something new to score a higher rating with the Ohio Music Education Association.

“Our show this year is actually completely different than what we’ve done before," said Field Commander Lydia White. "It’s called Persephone. It’s the story of Hades and Persephone and how she’s taken into the underworld and then kind of freed, kind of not, but it’s really cool. There’s three different movements, so three different songs.”

Director William Van Pelt said he has been dissatisfied with how the OMEA has scored the band in the past when it has performed more-traditional halftime shows. So this year, he decided to do a full-on musical production.

“Well, the band tells the story of the music through, No. 1 the music itself, but also through visual effects, general effects through the use of the color guard" he said. "We use all of those aspects together along with the drill to paint a picture of what’s going on in the drill and the story of Persephone.”

The rejuvenated band has invested in a new electronic system, which includes keyboards and a synthesizer, for its front ensemble.

“We’re interested to take our show out on the road and see what kind of reaction we get back from the community and the fans,” Van Pelt said.

Besides trying out new music, the band is building up its roster by recruiting middle-school students.

“They’re a vital part of our band with us," Assistant Director Robin White said. "Our numbers wouldn’t be where they are without the younger kids. They have a great learning curve to go through from the time they transition from sixth grade to seventh grade, and most of them get it pretty quickly.”

Now that the band is back and growing, it’s easy to ignore that Belpre once lost its marching band. White said having a marching band is more important than it might seem.

“It’s an activity that is kind of the in thing to do at our school right now," she said. "It gives kids an opportunity to be involved in something and a lot of times this is the place where kids find their home. I know we had a parent tell us just the other day that has two daughters in the band and they’ve searched for their place in school and they feel like they’ve finally found it in the marching band.

"I know when I was in school, that was my place, too, and my daughter being a part of it now, it’s been her place. And you know it’s not for everybody. It’s hard work. But it is a vital part of our school community and our community in Belpre as well.”

You can catch the Belpre marching band at any home football game.