The Grove City High School marching band won the top awards last month in the Fiesta Bowl National Band Championship and the Fiesta Bowl Parade in Glendale, Ariz.
It marked the first time since 2004 that one school swept both top awards.
Grove City was named the grand champion among 11 bands from across the nation invited to participate in the Dec. 29 Fiesta Bowl parade. GCHS earned a score of 94.60 and finished first in three of four categories, including music performance, general effect and marching.
On Dec. 30, the band won the grand master's trophy in the national band championship, earning a score of 96.50. GCHS won first place in four categories -- music performance, general effect, visual performance and drum majors -- and finished in second place in percussion.
"We've never won a national championship," band director George Edge said. "It was an overwhelming feeling. Our kids worked very hard over the summer and through the fall preparing for this competition. I'm so proud of the way they performed and how they conducted themselves throughout our trip."
The victory was particularly sweet since Grove City was the runner-up when it last participated in the Fiesta Bowl in 2009, losing by just 75 hundredths of a point, Edge said.
Even sweeter was the fact the triumph came three years after the band program was suspended for one year when a levy's failure forced the district to make budget cuts, he said.
Edge said he is appreciative of the community's support of the band.
A number of local businesses and community members provided funds to assist about 40 band members who could not otherwise afford some or all of the cost of the trip, he said.
"Not only did our students get to participate in the Fiesta Bowl competition, but they got to see some magnificent sites, like Sedona and the Grand Canyon," Edge said. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
"It was an incredible experience," senior Cyler McClure said. "It was neat to be with all the bands, but also to work together as a team in the competition and see all our hard work pay off."
The band program was suspended during McClure's freshman year.
"It was very upsetting and very difficult to lose that year," he said. "But looking back at it, it's a special feeling to know we came from having nothing to being national champion."
"The trip was awesome. Pretty much everything about it was awesome," senior Matt Hakes said. "To sit there and hear our school's name called for the grand master's trophy, I can't describe that feeling."
For Hakes, participating in the band has been about more than just learning to play music.
"It's changed me a lot," he said. "Before my freshman year, I had no idea what I wanted to do after high school. Now I plan to major in music, and it's because of my experience in the band."