A Trip to Remember: The Band Competition at Williamsburg


Proud DeMatha students display the trophies and awards they won at the Worldstrides Band Competition. Credit: @demathacatholic

Maximo Legaspi, Editor

Music is a big part of being a student at DeMatha. Led by Mr. James Roper, a good portion of the students who attend DeMatha balance schoolwork with playing an instrument, with over 40% of those enrolled being a part of the music program.

Each year, the individual bands and choruses at DeMatha practice to compete in competitions around the state and country. This year, the music program took a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia to compete in the WorldStrides Band Competition, which included many other schools. During their time in Williamsburg, they stayed at Great Wolf Lodge.

There was much preparation leading up to the competition, as junior Jarrod Ghatt describes. “I’m in Wind Ensemble, and we’ve been preparing for months for this adjudication,” Ghatt said. Some of the practice included playing “the three pieces we played with rigorous effort nearly every day to perfect them,” and they practiced those specific pieces for “about five months,” said juniors Cole Gilbert and Andrew Foreman, respectively.

Mr. Roper continually stressed the importance of the event, pushing the musicians to play their best, and this didn’t stop once they reached Williamsburg. Talking about the last-minute preparations, Ghatt said that “we even practiced for like 40 minutes the night before,” though he emphasized the point that they didn’t play at all on the day of their specific competition. “It’s never good to rehearse before the concert. For brass players and some woodwind players, it takes a lot of energy and endurance…to play at max skill, so we didn’t want to ruin anyone’s chops either.”

When the time to perform came around, many had an overall positive attitude about their performances, both as a band and individually. Junior Luke Foreman “felt good about performing,” as he had spent a lot of time and effort practicing. Though he had a few minor slip ups, Gilbert echoed Foreman’s feelings. “The best part was that I wasn’t nervous so it made it much easier to play,” he said, though the heat on the stage made him somewhat uncomfortable. Ghatt, alternatively, felt he could’ve done much better, adding that “Mr. Roper backed that up when we reflected on our performance the week later, even though we swept the competition,” clearly showing the care and effort that is displayed by the student musicians.

Not all their time in Williamsburg was spent performing. There was a lot of free time for the students to enjoy, and many made the most out of it. “In our free time,” Gilbert said, “my friends and I ran around Great Wolf Lodge doing whatever caught our eye first.” Such activities included bowling, eating food, visiting the arcade, and hanging out with friends. Andrew Foreman mostly played games on his friend’s PS4, as “the games in Great Wolf Lodge were meant for kids.”

Bowling was one of the main highlights of the trip for some, especially Gilbert. When he went with his friends, “there was this super energetic dad who we could tell really loved to be there.” This man would call upon the rest of the bowlers to howl with him as he bowled, but saw little luck until the last round. “He went up for the last time and invited everyone to howl with him, and this time, EVERYONE did it…the stars aligned and led to him getting a strike.” The whole experience was enjoyable, and Gilbert thought it was “really funny.”

Students were also able to enjoy the neighboring Busch Gardens resort, as well. Luke Foreman sees it as the highlight of his trip, as it was “fun to relax and ride the rides with friends.” With almost 10 hours of free time on the final day to enjoy the park, Ghatt said there was a lot of fun to be had. Gilbert especially enjoyed the roller coasters and the drop towers, though he had a shocking experience on the latter. “I remember specifically getting on the drop tower with just a small handful of the group…Little did we know that it would start spinning,” which terrified the riders and led to Gilbert losing his voice for a few days. He even said that many of the people on the ride yelled at the ride to stop spinning “because, since when did drop towers spin?”

Ghatt appreciated the freedom that came with being able to hang out with a lot of his friends, which he said was the highlight of the trip. “It was so fun because being in a hotel room with all of your best buds grants you a freedom you could never get with…anywhere else.” For Gilbert, one of his many highlights was acting as a wingman for his friend’s promposal. “Jarrod Ghatt, Tariq Lewis, Devin Jones and I helped out Leo Maring with a promposal,” which involved singing a song Maring made for his date.

It seems that many memories were made on this trip, and the students especially had a good time. Not only were they able to outperform many of the other bands at the competition, they were able to kick back and enjoy their time in Williamsburg. Hopefully next year’s band trip is able to be just as memorable and successful as this one.