Liberty marching band London-bound for New Year's
The Liberty High School marching band will ring in the new year with a tour of London and its biggest audience yet.
The band and color guard were invited to march and play in the New Year's Day parade Jan. 1 in London, England.
About 90 students, staff and parent volunteers will make the trip.
Just 12 of the best high school and college marching bands in the United States were picked for the parade this year. Bands qualify by earning high scores at national competitions.
In 2012, the Liberty High School band stood out after earning a rating of "superior" from the Ohio Music Education Association, as well as a top rating at the state championships.
Band members attribute their success to strong student leadership.
"We're working together with a common goal," said senior Evan Joseph, a field commander. "We're always trying to succeed, push each other and perform to our highest potential, and that's pushing the whole band forward."
Senior sousaphone player Pryce Kelley said it's determination and work ethic that led to the band's international recognition.
"It's something that has to come from the kids," Kelley said. "The staff has the knowledge and they can teach you, but it's up to us to practice, put in the hard work and perform."
The color guard's signature flag routines have been as strong as the band's performances, said band director Travis Hicks.
In addition to marching in the parade, the band will perform at Cadogen Hall, home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Tours of London and the English countryside also are scheduled. Kelley said he is eager to see the ancient Stonehenge monument; color guard captain Lisa Schweder said she wants to see the royal crown jewels.
Students and parent volunteers have been hard at work raising money to help fund the trip. Earlier this month, they hosted a pancake breakfast that pulled in more than $3,000.
Now they're selling coupon books to raise money. Books can be purchased at home football games or by talking to any band member.
Direct donations can be made at the website libertybands. com/marching-band.
Band members said they're anxious and excited to play in their biggest shows ever, and Schweder said she's preparing a motivational pep talk for her color guard before the parade.
More than 600,000 people attend the parade each year, and 240 million viewers worldwide watch it at home.
"It's definitely the biggest thing we've done," Schweder said. "It's been a lot of work, but we're motivated and ready."
For now, the band's top-rated show will be featured during halftime at Liberty High School's Friday-night football games.