Lakota West Marching Band: A Trip Out West

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Maddie Arno, CCO

Lakota West Goes Out West

As a member of the Lakota West Marching Band, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to both Las Vegas and parts of Utah for a competition. Our band left last Wednesday, November 3rd, and returned Monday, November 8th. While there, the band visited many places and also competed in the St. George BOA regional competition. Here’s a recap of everything I got to experience while I was there.

Around 4 am on Wednesday, I woke up, grabbed my backpack, and headed to school. From there, the whole band was to be transported to the airport. The students were separated into three flights, and I was lucky enough to get the direct flight to Las Vegas, Nevada. Once we landed there, we were picked up by a bus and driven approximately 40 minutes to the Hoover Dam. It was absolutely gorgeous weather with sunshine and clear skies. We first got an opportunity to walk the bridge on top of the dam, and then we walked on the dam itself. The rock structures were stunning. We could see two different colors of rocks, which showed the highest the waterline rose in the past. Everything was extremely different from the green hills of Ohio.

After a couple of hours at the Hoover Dam, we traveled back to Las Vegas to get pictures with the famous sign. It was a very pretty tourist moment for everyone. Then, on our way to Utah, drove through the Las Vegas strip. Cool hotels and structures could be seen, and they were astonishing. We finally made it to the hotel in Cedar City, Utah around 11 pm local time. After being up for 22 hours straight, everyone fell asleep.

We woke up the next day around 7 am and drove to Bryce Canyon National Park. The view on the way there was scary, especially looking down, but it was unlike anything I had ever seen. When we got there, we hiked 2 miles around the rim of the canyon. Afterward, we took a trail down into the canyon. That was my favorite part of the whole day. Seeing the rocks towering over and the clear skies was unbelievable. We sat down in that canyon taking in the sights for an hour. The only complaint about this hike was the altitude. Bryce Canyon’s elevation is 7,664 ft and West Chester’s elevation is 736 ft. —  a mile and a half higher off the ground is definitely a big difference. It was harder to breathe and there were many breaks on the way up out of the canyon. Other than that, Bryce Canyon was a dream for a nature fiend like me. We spent most of the day there and got back to the hotel around 10 pm.

On the third day of the trip, the days got even longer and more eventful. We woke up at 6 am and traveled to a local high school where we had a three-hour practice. Practicing and being able to look up at the mountains on the horizon was an experience I will never forget. Our show is very strenuous, that, combined with the high altitude, took a lot out of everyone. However, after an extremely long practice, we changed out of our uniforms and got on the bus that traveled to Zion National Park. Overall, I enjoyed Bryce Canyon and I loved the wildlife in Zion. Bryce had just been pretty rocks, but Zion had trees, rivers, and wildlife. We walked a couple of trails up a mountain and the views, once again, were phenomenal. Everywhere you went it was like a picture. The weather had been perfect, and the atmosphere calming and stress-free. We spent the rest of the afternoon making memories and enjoying each other’s company. Finally, we went to one last place named Southern Utah University where we watched the Wind Symphony perform. It was a nice, relaxing ending to the day and they sounded very good. We got back to the hotel around 12 am.

On day 4, the day had finally come. It was competition day. Everyone was ready and excited to show our skills to the bands in Utah. Everywhere we went, we were known as the “Ohio band.” I felt famous walking to our warmup when everyone was telling us good luck. We performed our show in prelims and the energy in the stands was exhilarating. We were all hyped after and felt the love from everyone. Afterward, we watched the rest of the bands and waited for awards. In prelims, we got third in our class and fourth overall. We advanced to the finals and got to perform last. The best thing about performing last was every band was in the stands waiting for awards. The seats were filled and all eyes were on us. The liveliness of the crowd and the adrenaline rush of knowing it was the last time I would ever perform in a high school marching band was absolutely dumbfounding. I felt on top of the world the entire 12 minutes of our show. That feeling of the standing ovation and the craze of the audience will stick with me forever. There is nothing better than receiving praise for something you’ve spent countless hours working on. In finals, we ended up placing 2nd. We were 3 points behind one of the best bands in the country, and we received the highest score Lakota West Marching Band has ever received at a competition. While walking back to the buses after the awards, we were stopped so many times and told how amazing our show was and how much everyone loved it. In my opinion, it sounded like we were a crowd favorite. This was definitely my favorite day of the trip. There were no bad moments and it was just pure happiness all day. 

On day 5, it was our last day. We woke up around 8 am and turned our bags in. We then traveled to Las Vegas and we visited the Neon Museum. It was really cool seeing all the old signs and how big they were. We went in the daytime so it was a little less cool than it would have been if it was dark and all the signs were lit up. However, it was still fun. After that, we drove around Las Vegas. When it got dark, we walked the Las Vegas Strip. We visited some souvenir shops, walked the halls of the Bellagio, and walked the strip looking at all the buildings and lights. The strip at night with all the lights was breathtaking. However, there was also the stench of weed every 2 minutes. Other than that, it was fun watching the locals and being a tourist. There are so many interesting characters in the city. After we walked around for a couple of hours, we ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and traveled to the airport. Our flight was at 11 pm and we got home at 7 am on Monday. 

Overall, this trip was tiring, beautiful, and memorable. I was excited to be back home and back to a routine, but I will miss the views. I love nature and mountains, which is exactly what all of Utah was. I will forever be grateful for being able to experience this and I know these memories will stick with me for the rest of my life. Thank you to the directors, Mr. Carr and Mr. Celek, the principal, Mr. Brown, and everyone else that made this trip possible. I don’t know if I will ever make it back to reality, but that is a problem for another time.