Johnson High School Marching Band continued its first place victory sweep on Sunday, October 23 at the Tournament of Bands Chapter X Championship at West Essex High School in North Caldwell. They won first place in the Chapter X, Class 1A Division with an overall score of 87.95, as well as Best Music, Best Visual and Best Color Guard awards within their group.
West Essex was the fourth of five scheduled competitions for the Crusader Marching Band. The Crusaders earned a first place ranking in Class 1A at each competition, a significant feat in this, their inaugural year on the competition field. They began the season with a first place win in Matawan on October 1, earned the title again in Roselle Park on October 8 and a third time October 16 at Governor Livingston High School. With each battle on the competition field, the band has steadily increased its scores, adding over 10 full points since their first win. The Crusaders also took home Best Music and Best Visual awards at each competition and senior Odoardo Pacella was awarded Best Drum Major award at the Governor Livingston competition. They continue to proudly fill the trophy case at the front entrance of ALJ.
In Tournament of Bands (TOB), marching bands compete in a series of local Chapter competitions. Based on their cumulative scores from those competitions, they are ranked against all same-class bands from all TOB Chapters. TOB is one of the largest competitive band organizations in the country including over 400 active schools and organizations divided into 13 Chapters across 9 states. The Crusaders are currently ranked 4th overall in TOB Class 1A, which includes approximately 30 bands.
The Crusaders’ season culminates this weekend with the Atlantic Coast Class A Championship in Avon Grove, PA on Saturday, October 29. Band and color guard members anxiously await the opportunity to show their stuff at this Championship event.
The Crusader Marching Band successes are especially rewarding and motivating to the young musicians and color guard because prior to this year, the ensemble had not taken the field in competition. In fact, Johnson High School had no marching band at all when music instructor Rachel Bollaro came to ALJ few years ago. She founded a small “pep band” to play in the stands at varsity football games, then in 2009 formed a small marching band to perform a short halftime field show at ALJ football games. Last fall, with increasing ranks in the band and color guard, Bollaro was able to develop a longer, more comprehensive field show. This year she felt they were ready to face the judges and demonstrate their skill, competing against bands of similar size from across the region.
The band's first place wins are a satisfying payoff for many, many long hours on the practice field that began with a week of band camp back in hot, steamy August, a stark contrast to the below freezing temperatures and possible snowfall forecast for competition this weekend. Bollaro said, "The members of the Crusader Marching Band have practiced very hard this season and I am so proud of their growth and success on the competition field."