The Central Crossing High School Concert Band was honored Monday night by the South-Western Board of Education for winning first place concert band and grand champion honors at the 2014 Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.
In addition to the recognition from the board, the band also received a proclamation from Grove City Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage and a commendation from the Ohio House of Representatives for its achievement.
"We knew we had done pretty well in the competition, but we weren't sure we could actually win," said Director of Bands Robert McNutt.
"We were competing against some very talented bands from across the country," said Keith Hallas, assistant director of bands and marching band coordinator. "It was a great experience for our kids."
While in Tampa, the school's musicians participated in the Outback Bowl's concert and jazz band festival and the marching band performed in the Outback Bowl Parade on New Year's Eve and during the football game the next day.
Anywhere from 50 to 90 high school bands apply to participate in the Outback Bowl, but only about a dozen schools are selected each year, Hallas said.
"There was a lot of screaming when we found out we won as grand champion," said junior Jackie Stanley, a drum major and member of the concert band.
"We thought it was great -- it was amazing," said senior Sarah Chipps, who also is a drum major and member of the concert band.
"There really wasn't a lot of time to prepare, but we worked really hard to get ready for the bowl game," she said.
Performing during halftime in the 65,000-seat Raymond James Stadium in Tampa was a thrill, Stanley said. The "Ray Jay" is home to the National Football League's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"We've performed in big stadiums before, but nothing like this," Chipps said.
Both girls said they enjoyed getting to meet students from other bands and observe how they perform.
"It's a chance to learn from watching the way other outstanding bands do things," Stanley said. "It will help us get even better next year."
There was another perk to performing at the Outback Bowl.
"It was definitely nice to be in Florida over New Year's," Chipps said.
"As we drove down to Florida, we could see the temperatures slowly getting higher," Stanley said. "It was nice to arrive in 70-degree weather, when it was 10 degrees back home."