South Jones Band of Braves wins Class 5A state title

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The South Jones Band of Braves marching routine opens in a flash of color and smoke. It tells a story of unity, two disparate tribes locked in war until they forge a newfound alliance. Further proving it may be a dramatized comment on America’s divided population, there is also a lot of yelling.

The Band of Braves this year won overall at the Class 5A State Marching Championships with this very piece. They also won a variety of other awards, overloading the table that stood before the bleachers at their victory run performance on Thursday. Parents, supporters and students packed the stands. A passing football player remarked, “Those bleachers are fuller than they’ve ever been.”

Before the show started, graduating band seniors passed along their field dots, with motivational words written on the back, to younger band students.

“These kids have worked I can’t tell you how many hours,” said cheer coach Michelle Blackwell. “And the band parents, the hours they have put in — Saturdays, afternoons and nights — I can’t say enough about them. They’ve given everything they’ve got.”

Blackwell said the students have logged more than 1,000 hours on the practice field for this year’s routine.

“If you’ve seen these kids out there practicing, well, I don’t know how they do it,” she said. “There’s a science to this.”

On their championship win, band director Brian Joyce said he feels “great.”

“I’m super proud,” he said. “This win belongs to all the students and staff that came before us. It belongs to the entire program.”

The students practiced 3 1/2 hours per session, three times per week. Joyce coaches his students on time management to give them the discipline to balance academics.

South Jones senior Hayden Allen said the balance isn’t hard to maintain if that coaching is used correctly.

“Once you join band, you have to keep your grades up to stay in band,” he said. “It pushes us. It teaches us about focus, taking direction and just doing it.”

“Band is one of the only reasons a lot of kids come to school,” Joyce said.

In Class 1A, the Stringer High School marching band won the state championship.

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