The Hermitage-Homecoming Hustle


Photo by: Hermitage Classic Band Festival facebook page

Midlothian High School band and color guard dazzle at the Hermitage Classic Band Festival

Before the homecoming dance, most are leaning over a mirror at home, styling their hair, studying “how to tie a tie” wikiHows, and catching dinner with their friends. However, this year, members of the Trojan marching band and color guard were preoccupied warming up their instruments, carefully rolling up their flags for transportation, and scrambling onto buses in preparation for the Hermitage Classic Marching Band Festival.

Samantha Shaffer in her homecoming royalty dress with her fellow color guard members the night before Hermitage (Photo by: Kathy Ayoub)

“Last year, I was able to get my nails done and go out to eat with friends. It was very low stress and I had a great time,”  Homecoming royalty and color guard captain, Samantha Shaffer, 12, said. “This year, I wasn’t able to do my nails because they probably would have just gotten ruined during the competition because flags aren’t the nicest on manicures. Unlike last year, I wasn’t able to get super cute pictures beforehand and it felt like I was missing out on vital homecoming experiences,”

Despite this unconventional timing, Midlo performers temporarily pushed their frustration aside and set their sights on carrying out their stunning production. They marched onto the field at Hermitage High School and the sound of their spellbinding, slightly spooky music filled the crisp fall air. The guard’s flowy, feathered outfits immediately caught the audience’s attention, and those in the stands were quickly enchanted by the Edgar Allan Poe inspired show. As dark-colored flags were twirled to the band’s tune, cheers and applause came from the captivated spectators; the general consensus was clear – Midlo’s Raven-themed performance was nothing short of macabre magic.

Drum major Kate Tabor preparing the band to begin their performance (Photo by: Avery Belisle)

“I am constantly proud of our band and how much passion even our youngest eighth-graders and freshmen have! Even though we placed 4th at the competition, we were only 1 point behind first! (1st – 77; 2nd – 76.8; 3rd – 76.1; Us – 76)” drum major, Kate Tabor, 12, reports of the performance. “I’m so proud of all of the hard work; it is such an honor to conduct and work with such amazing peers!”

After marching off the field, members of the band and guard rushed out of their uniforms and packed their instruments as quickly as possible to sign out, grab their dates, and hurry home to get dressed. Despite their best efforts, most still couldn’t make the dance on time.

After the competition, we rushed to my house.” Shaffer recalled. “Our pre-hoco dinner was chicken tenders my dad had picked out. We got ready and arrived an hour late to the dance”

“I felt more anxious than I should have. It was very inconsiderate of the school to plan homecoming on one of our largest performances, forcing us to choose between our band and being late to homecoming.” drum major, Jacob Williams, 12, bluntly stated. “It feels as though the school doesn’t really care about the band or what we do,

Sabrina Gernhardt holds color guard’s first place trophy from the Hermitage Classic Band Festival (Photo by: Kathy Ayoub)

It wasn’t until long after homecoming had started that competition results from the festival were announced. Midlo color guard members scattered around the gym and cafeteria erupted with joy, waving their phones in the air, showing pictures of Sabrina Gernhardt proudly holding the massive first-place trophy the group was awarded that night. A sense of relief and delight hung in the air; all the preparation, stress, and sacrifice had come to a pleasant and well-deserved conclusion.

At first I felt this sort of shock,” SCA organizer, Ava Craft, 12, said, describing her thoughts when she had first heard the news. “We had never gotten first place during my high school career. But, after the initial shock, I was just excited, overjoyed, and proud. It was the moment that made all the stress about having the competition and homecoming on the same and having to manage SCA and guard at the same time worth it,”