It was a night of rousing cheers and more than a few happy tears as two of senior Reed Nicholson's worlds came together on the football field at Upper Arlington High School.
Nicholson has attended classes at both the Ohio State School for the Blind and Upper Arlington High School since his freshman year and is a member of the OSSB marching band.
He marched onto the field at his home school for the first time Sept. 14 at Upper Arlington.
Students yelled out "Reed!" as he led his band onto the field before the two marching bands combined for a halftime performance.
Nicholson responded by pumping his trombone up into the air and yelling, "Go Bears!"
His mother, Gina Nicholson, was watching from the stands.
"I was overwhelmed with the joy my son was experiencing," she said. "What more could a parent want for their child but to enjoy life, friends and have great memories? This is one of the most valuable memories that I will have of Reed's senior year."
The night began with the UAHS marching band inviting the OSSB band to its traditional pre-game dinner and practice.
Nicholson said the night made him feel like "a whole student" because students from both of his schools could meet each other.
"It was the most exciting day of my life," he said.
He said he has always wanted to have his friends from OSSB meet his Upper Arlington friends. He has attended Upper Arlington schools since first grade at Tremont Elementary School.
Mrs. Nicholson said her son was born 10 weeks premature, weighing 1 pound, 3.25 ounces.
"Due to his prematurity, Reed developed retinopathy of prematurity, which is where the retina does not form normally, causing him to be extremely nearsighted," she said.
He began orientation and mobility training with vision impairment experts when he was in the fifth grade, after a retinal detachment left him blind in his left eye. He began attending UAHS for a half-day and OSSB for a half-day as a freshman to focus on vision impairment technology training. He joined the OSSB marching band, the wrestling team and the track team.
Mark Manser, UAHS marching band director, said the OSSB band and his band sat in the stands together during the first half of the football game.
"The OSSB band learns music differently than the UA band -- mostly by listening and matching pitches through solfege," he said.
Solfege is a technique for teaching sight-singing, in which each note of the score is sung to one of seven syllables -- do, re, mi, fa, sol, la and ti.
"They were able to pick up some of our tunes and play along, which was pretty cool for our students to experience," Manser said. "It turned out we were playing the same song in our shows -- Gonna Fly Now from Rocky -- so we were able to work that out at the spread performance and then we performed it together on the field at the halftime show."
Manser said the Thomas Worthington High School band director agreed to less performance time on the field and athletics directors from both Thomas Worthington and Upper Arlington high schools agreed to an extended halftime.
"More importantly, they are great people and I'm so glad we got a chance to work together."
Upper Arlington Intervention Coordinator Shawn Strohl said the idea to bring the bands together originally was suggested by former principal Kip Greenhill.
"The event couldn't happen last year due to scheduling and Reed's mother asked if I could look into it for this year," he said.
"I am particularly appreciative of the inclusive and immediate response that each band director gave to the idea of inviting OSSB's marching band to join the halftime performance," Strohl said. "It was especially meaningful for UA and OSSB, as the performance enabled Reed the opportunity to march at his home field for the very first time."