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Papillion-La Vista South rides train theme to first state marching band championship

Papillion-La Vista South rides train theme to first state marching band championship

As the extraordinary school year comes to a close, education leaders say reopening was the right decision.

Papillion-La Vista South chugged to its first-ever championship at the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association competition Saturday night with a rollicking program of train songs.

“In the last few years, we’ve always placed in the top five or six, but this was our first win,” Joe Homan, the school’s band director, said Sunday. “The kids absolutely worked so hard this year, and they really deserved this championship.”

The 140-member band performed “All Aboard!” at Buell Stadium in Millard to earn an uncommonly high score of 90.25, Homan said. Bellevue West finished second, while Millard West placed third, followed by Gretna and Bellevue East.

The Titans’ song selections included “Ghost Train” by Eric Whitacre, “Go the Distance” from Disney’s animated movie “Hercules,” and the old standby “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” The color guard sported flags with a train motif, and there were 14 drawings of railroad cars that were 16 feet wide.

“Our show was a fan favorite wherever we performed this year,” Homan said. “Whether it was a national competition or at a football game.”

Overall, about 70 bands competed at three locations.

At the other two sites, Seacrest Field in Lincoln and Kearney High, band festivals were held. At the festival level, judges rate band performances as neutral, superior or excellent but do not name an overall champion.

Complete results are available at the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association website.

Homan said all of the band directors at Saturday’s competition were talking about what a great season it has been for their students. It’s exciting, he said, to see how many good high school bands are in Nebraska.

“These kids practice 10 to 15 hours per week starting in mid-June,” Homan said. “They are out practicing at 7 a.m. in 20- to 30-degree weather and then again at 9 o’clock at night. It’s an honor to have our kids earn this championship.”

Rounding out the top 10 finishers at Buell Stadium are, in order: Millard North, Elkhorn South, Millard South, Elkhorn North and Westside.

By class level, Papillion-La Vista South won Class AA; Bellevue East, Class A; Norris, Class B; and Lincoln Christian, Class C., 402-444-1272

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