INDIANAPOLIS – The Decatur County Marching Band (DCMB) finished the 2017 Indiana State Fair Band Day competition in 9th place Saturday, after competing against 48 other schools for a spot in the top ten.

Many local residents have eagerly followed the DCMB’s season this year – only the second year for the marching band composed of students from all three Decatur County schools. Musicians from North Decatur (NDHS) and South Decatur (SDHS) Jr-Sr high schools, and Greensburg Community High School (GCHS) came together last year to form the combined marching band under the tutelage of NDHS Band Director Jacob Crossley, SDHS Band Director Noah Leininger, and GCHS Band Director Jeff Maupin.

“The DCMB threw down today and tonight at the Indiana State Fair Band Day,” Crossley said on Facebook Saturday evening. “In prelims this morning, the band placed 10th out of 50 bands, earning a spot in the Sweet Sixteen as a finalist. On top of that excellent accomplishment, the kids won class caption awards for best visual performance and percussion.”

When all the songs had been played and the steps marched, the DCMB finished in 9th place, moving up from their 13th place finish last year. The DCMB has placed in the top ten in every competition in which they took part this year.

“We could not be more proud of these kids for working hard all summer to put together an excellent show and to bring it to life at each contest,” Crossley said.

Hard work and dedication is at the core of the band’s success this year, according to the group’s directors.

“The best example I can think of for our progression from last year is that on the first day of band camp last year, we learned seven sets of drills – the formations the students create while marching,” Leininger said. “This year, the students learned nineteen sets of drill in the first day – three times as many formations – plus about a minute's worth of choreography. It was really exciting when rehearsal was over and the staff came together to talk about it. I think that's when everyone knew without a doubt that this season was going to be special.”

Crossley said the biggest change from the DCMB’s first year to second year in his opinion was the student leadership.

“All of the students that had previous marching experience were always helping the new students get better. Having the older students there to lean on really helped our younger students to develop into great marchers and musicians,” Crossley said.

“I was absolutely blown away by the kids this summer,” Leininger added. “With a core group of students who had been with us last year, we were able to get started much faster this year. We could point to veterans who were doing things well as examples for younger kids joining us for the first time, and we could send students off to work together in sectionals with veterans leading their small groups in visual or music practice.”

Maupin said the band members’ ages were their biggest weakness, though he added that being such a young group, they have a lot of room to improve, especially with so many first-time marchers.

“The young students did an outstanding job of learning quickly, and by the end of the season, you couldn't tell that it was the first year marching for most of them,” Maupin said.

For all band members, Maupin credited their willingness to improve every single day as the DCMB’s greatest strength.

“They were very receptive to making changes and constantly adjusting for the good of the group. I also think the band did a nice job of making sure that the experience was fun and rewarding. They came to rehearsal with a positive attitude every day which made our jobs as teachers an absolute blast,” Maupin said.

Leininger said he was beyond impressed by the hard work the students put forth this year. With over 200 hours in practice and performance, the DCMB’s season is a demanding one, doubly so for the students involved in more than one sport or extracurricular activity.

“As a staff, we had to keep reminding ourselves that we are only a second-year band with a lot of younger students involved, because the group dug in, worked hard, and achieved such incredible success that it was easy for us to forget that,” Leininger said. “We went from just sneaking into the Sweet 16 last year to placing in the top ten of all of our contests this year and moving into ninth at the finals performance Saturday night. We're thrilled by what the kids were able to do and are looking forward to striving for the highest again next year.”

Crossley said he is looking forward to next year because he wants to see the DCMB continue to grow bigger and better. Crossley already has his eye on the Class 2A title at the 2018 Indiana State Fair Band Day.

“Finishing 9th at State Fair Band Day was a fitting conclusion to what has been an absolute dream season. This group of students has been the hardest working group of students that I have ever worked with and their drive to achieve excellence could be seen at any point during the season,” Crossley said. “Whether it was during practice, at contests, during water breaks, or even on their down time, they never stopped working to achieve excellence and that's all we could've asked for and that's one of the reasons why we were so successful this year.”

Maupin said he would like to see more students from each of the three high schools involved in the DCMB next year. He said the marching band is an excellent summer activity for students to get involved in and all the directors would like to see more participation from all the county’s schools.

“We would love for more students to come be a part of something where you learn, have fun, and come together with peers to achieve something really special. The sky is the limit for this group in the coming years,” Maupin said.

While the marching season has come to an end for the DCMB, the group and its supporters are already preparing for next year. The DCMB is hosting a Ford Drive 4 UR School fundraising event at North Decatur High School from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12. For every licensed driver that test drives a new Ford vehicle, the DCMB will receive $20. Don Meyer Ford is hosting the event with the band.

“Thank you to our sponsors and boosters for making this season possible, to our families for giving us your kids this summer, and to all the kids for your passion and energy!” Crossley said. “Thank you to our seniors for your time and dedication to the DCMB, and best wishes in your future endeavors!”

The DCMB shared a thank you video to recognize their many sponsors and the difference their sponsorships make. The video is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=UylO656TOmo&feature=youtu.be.

The group also has a GoFundMe page seeking to raise $5,000 available at www.gofundme.com/decatur-county-marching-band-2017.

The DCMB can be contacted via their Facebook page, “Decatur County Marching Band.”

Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111x7004; amanda.browning@greensburgdailynews.com